Live Meaningfully – By Ayesha G. Shenk, M.A.
72 degrees and the livin’ is lovely.
As I drive down the wooded avenue adjacent to my neighborhood, with the sunroof open and the music in full chorus, I find myself full of a special sort of gratitude.
Ben Rector’s crooning from my iTunes and I’ve been gifted a moment in the midst of the weekday hubbub to take it all in and recognize just how amazing life really is.
Often in the scurry of the morning (dragging yourself from bed, rushing the kids through breakfast, making lunches, slugging coffee and scrambling out the door) we set a tone for the day that engenders stress and an anemic filter on our perception of what’s really going on around us.
This morning, however, Ben’s telling a tale of sitting on a plane next to an old man who’s never flown before. The man winds his words around the ups and downs of his life, but reminds Rector (and, by extension, all of us as we eavesdrop) just how lovely life can be, when looking down from thirty thousand feet.
There is no question… life can be hard. People’s pain and their power are evidenced to me on a daily basis. The struggles of the human condition are significant and, at times, all-consuming. However, though our experience of these triumphs and trials may be unique to us, the struggles themselves are not. Love, loss, grief, fear, loneliness, connectedness, joy, and triumph (this list could go on ad infinitum) have been experienced since the dawn of time. Whether it be our elation around the creation of fire or our devastation around the loss of a child, human beings have been at this whole ‘life thing’ for a while. We just have to hope we’re making progress in the emotional wisdom of it all and the way in which we make meaning from it.
In no way, do I suggest that some pretty weather and a great songwriter can make up for what so many people are going through on a daily basis. But what I do believe, wholeheartedly, is that although we must stay in the present in order to be fully engaged in our lives, perhaps sometimes that view of the present ought to be ‘zoomed out’ a bit. Trying to make sense of anything whilst thrashing within the waves of it, has yet to be proven as a successful approach.
Rector’s protagonist meanders a bit in his reflections but returns to the fact that, though he’s been better and he’s been worse – life’s been good to him. He offers the sort of hyper-simplistic version of self-assessment that perhaps we all need every now and then.
I’ve been better, I’ve been worse
I’ve chased after pretty girls
I’ve seen a couple places that I never thought I’d see
I’ve walked into harder times, I’ve walked out the other side
It seems in life you end up getting what you need
Yeah, looking down from 30,000 feet, life’s been good to me.
As I hum and I drive… I hum and I drive… I wonder how exactly to capture and bottle this song’s essence as an easy tonic when my attitude is in need of a little boost. I think of all the hardest things into which I myself have walked, and yet inevitably also come out the other side. And I get a little shiver of triumph and relief. I think of my amazing husband and the life we’re creating. I chuckle at the comings and goings of our children, pets, families and friends. I reflect on all of those dear to us whom we’ve lost, but who we also had for enough time to experience how extraordinary they were in their own rights. I give thanks for the pain and the grace that has brought me here… life has been good to me as well.
Wishing you exactly the elevation you may need for perspective this year.
Till the next time,
Be Well; Live Meaningfully.
Ayesha G. Shenk, M.A. practices at 2150 Park Avenue North as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and can be reached at www.livemeaningfully.net or 407-796-2959.