“Try to learn to breathe deeply, really to taste food when you eat, and when you sleep really to sleep. Try as much as possible to be wholly alive with all your might, and when you laugh, laugh like hell. And when you get angry, get good and angry. Try to be alive. You will be dead soon enough.” – Ernest Hemingway
We forget to look up when we walk around a city, failing to notice the beautiful handiwork and craftsmanship of architects. We forget to admire breathtaking views when we are out buzzing like bees, too busy to even realize we haven’t taken a full, deep breath in a very, very long time. We get too used to the things around us, and we don’t humble ourselves enough. We forget that we are nothing in comparison to the universe that surrounds us and of which we are part. We forget that we are not the center of anything, except of our own limited perspectives.
We forget to be thankful for the life, the opportunities, and the love we have been given and are still provided with day in and day out. We forget that no human being owes us anything, but that each is free to choose their path and how they wish to treat others, as are we. We forget that life, although not easy, is not nearly as complicated as we make it out to be in our drama-starved minds. We forget that although we have no control over many circumstances, we do control one crucial piece of the puzzle: our reactions to everything and to everyone.
We forget that most people around the world don’t live in as much comfort as we do in our own little bubbles, and although it’s not necessarily our fault that we live in bubbles, nor is it intrinsically a bad thing, we forget that privilege has more to do with timing and context than anything else. We forget that each day hands us a chance to begin anew, no matter how much we believe we may have failed yesterday, or how daunting tomorrow feels. We forget that it is perfectly acceptable to be picky with our battles, and that letting go and putting our pride aside may, in some cases, be the best answer.
To paraphrase Marianne Williamson, we forget that “our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us.” We forget that when “we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
Let us not forget. Forgetting is easy. Forgetting is comfortable. Forgetting does not require strength. Forgetting is dying while we are still living. Let us live while we can, and embrace each step, often times stopping to help others up and guiding them back to their own paths if the moment and the opportunity arise. And if not, simply acknowledging their worth as a human might be enough to get them going again. We tend to forget that, too; that it’s not always about what we do or don’t do. Sometimes it’s just about stopping, listening, making someone else feel loved, and moving on.
And that’s OK. We can all be everyday heroes in small matters, and that is just as important.
Don’t forget that.
Photo: Gaby Alemán / View from Coit Tower, San Francisco, California, USA