Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The Beauty of a Bad Day...

Yesterday got off to a bad start. I'm somewhat bogged down by assignments due at the end of the semester (big research papers, medium sized research papers, small research papers, the usual) and there are just some things going on in my personal life that are making this time of the year particularly stressful. Sometimes it's a bit much to handle, so yesterday I decided to skip class (I really do apologize, Panza. I did the reading and am working hard on that paper for you) and go on a bike ride to relax.

I tend to do that. That's actually how I fell in love with biking. I started to ride in the midst of the end of a relationship with a girl I was infatuated with, so biking became my therapy. I would push as hard as I could for two hours, treating hills as my shortcomings and furiously working to overcome them. It was great. There is something about thinking about my problems after I've exhausted my body to the point of collapsing that helps me put them into perspective.

Anywho, I was rolling along and pushing hard, as is customary when in distress, when I decided to make a stop at my favorite park to just sit and watch people. When I was there, I saw a young family who were just hanging around the fountains. The parents looked in their mid twenties and the kids between the ages of six and eight, and they looked as if they were on the lower rungs of the economic class. When I stopped, the fountains started to come on (they put on a fountain show a few times an hour) and the little boy lit up and said, "I love my birthday!!!!" Just then the father looked at me with a glow that told me he loved his son's birthday too. Suddenly my whole day turned around.

The family reminded me that everyone's life is hard. Hardships look different and some have more than others. I couldn't imagine trying to raise two kids in my mid twenties in the working class of America. Life must be hard for people like that, but this man still looked at me like he couldn't be happier to be with his family at the park in that very moment, and it made me feel like I couldn't be happier to watch them being there.

Feeling down, suffering, hurting, having hard days, it's all part of the human experience. Feeling these emotions is incredibly important because it brings us all together. We're all part of the human race, just leaves on a tree, spokes on a wheel, and having anxiety ridden days makes us realize that we're not alone. We're all part of something bigger than ourselves. It would be inauthentic to deny these emotions and run away from them. They're what makes us who we are and what unites us all. We're one big support group.

It reminds me of one of my favorite poems, O me, O life!, by Walt Whitman:
"O me, o life!
The qestions of these recurring

Of the endless trains of the faithless
Of cities filled with the foolish

Of myself, forever reproaching myself
For who more foolish than I, and who more faithless?

Of eyes that vainly crave the light, of the objects mean, of the struggle ever renewed

Of the poor results of all
Of the plodding and sordid crowds I see around me

Of the empty and useless years of the rest, with the rest, me intertwined

The question, o me, So sad, recurring:
What good amid these, o me, o life?


That you are here; that life exists, and identity
That the powerful play goes on, that you might contribute a verse"



Anonymous said...

You're a pretty cool guy.

PeterAtLarge said...

Nicely observed, Mark. And nicely written...