There was a simpler time. A time when frolicking through the gardens of joy was a not a miracle wrought by money, fame, or beauty. Being happy was waking up each day and realizing the sun had risen again, another breathe had been inhaled, and the world had not quite quit on mankind. Competition has brought forth an attitude of seeking glory and wealth for the sake of looking at one’s neighbor and muttering, “I’m better than you”. No longer is it about picking up a 12-pack of beer and sauntering over to one’s neighbor’s house and saying, “Here’s to making it through another day”. To quote the song Bittersweet Symphony by The Verve, “It’s a bittersweet symphony this life, trying to make ends meet, you’re a slave to money then you die.” The world has completely skewed what happiness is in this world. Happiness isn’t about having Mitt Romney’s pension or the status of an sports icon. One can look around and think of the things which makes him or her truly happy. Happiness is not the product of a life of fame, wealth, or glory. No contribution to a person’s happiness is made by conquering your neighbor in the battle for whose car costs more. It isn’t the size of his or her bank account, but the events in life shared with people.
Relationships with people in this life mean everything. Nothing makes me tear up more than the thought of the people who have no one to share life with. One cannot even hope to contemplate the emotions of this world without first opening his or her life to the people around. What is happiness if there is no one to share it with? What is sadness if you have no one to comfort you? What is anger if you have no one to vent to? What is surprise if only empty space surrounds? The world revolves around people and the way we share our own lives with people. Perhaps your proudest moment is an individual accomplishment. You scored a 2400 on the SAT! You passed your driving test! It does not matter what the moment is, not matter how large or how small, what matters is when you came home, there were people there to share in your pride. You had the opportunity to have someone congratulate you on the accomplishment. Only by truly allowing oneself to be open to the people around you can you truly experience the authentic emotions of life. Life without authentic emotion is like a fish taken out of the ocean: dried up and dead. One may disagree and say they have found happiness without having people around them, and to each his or her own; however, the happiest moments in my life are when I am around the people in my life who have declared me worthy of their time. The days when I would text someone, revealing to him or her my innermost secrets and letting them see who I truly am, were days I would never be able to live without. Even better are days when a person texts me about his or her own life. Getting to know people on an emotional level is something special. Our emotional security is the hardest safe to crack. People are not fond of shouting their secrets from the rooftops, so when you connect with someone on an emotional level and the combination to the vault is whispered in your ear, you begin to realize this is a person you love. Whether it be Platonic love or True love (love of friend or love of spouse), the feeling is something so dear that the slightest betrayal triggers such feelings of sadness and defeat that it seems the world has suddenly come crashing down. Then above the abyss of betrayal, a hand reaches down and fishes you out. Someone else whom you love (in either a Platonic or True way) has become a haven for your broken heart. The special nature of relationship never rings truer than in a time of extreme sadness. Nothing pulls a one out of sadness like a human being. No level of destroying objects around you, screaming into a pillow, or accomplishing a feat will help repair the heart. Without people, one is doomed to dwell in a cesspool of sadness from which there appears no return. The sadness burning within one’s soul will slowly eat away at the very emotional core it is meant to strengthen; therefore, the great oxymoron of life is presented. People provide us not only with authentic happiness, but all authentic emotions. True sadness cannot be felt without people just as true happiness cannot; therefore, relationships are a fickle thing.
One may suggest a life without authentic emotion is better than gambling in relationships. The world of relationships is one which can seem to destroy a world. A world without authentic emotion, however, is one where it can be looked back and seen one has not truly lived. One of the most inspirational men in my life died in 1862. His name was Henry David Thoreau and he was an American writer during the simpler times: The Romantic Era. One of Thoreau’s greatest accomplishments was the book Walden. One of the greatest quotes from this work of art was the following: “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived”. If one attempts to live apart from society (as Thoreau did in Walden, ironically) he or she will find they have not truly lived. To have to lie on one’s deathbed alone and say, “At least I never had to experience heartbreak” is the excuse of the coward. The feeling of having to peer into the past and realize you never truly lived would be a fate far worse than the approaching death and this is the result of cutting oneself off from the outside world and making the code to one’s heart so complicated it is unbreakable. Imagine finally having the guts to open up to someone and feel the authentic emotions of life, only to have it come to an end so quickly. Realizing what you had missed in life…it is a moment of true anagnorisis, a curse that no one is deserving of feeling. Perhaps my favorite movie quote of all time comes from the film It’s A Wonderful Life when harry is toasting George and says, “To my big brother George, the richest man in town”. A man is left agape at the realization of what life is truly about. Life is about the people.
Some people may call me the fool for what I write, in this article and in others, but I write because it is something I love. I have no knowledge which is ornate, superior, or revolutionary. I have written this article because it is what I believe. It is something which people can disagree with and laugh at, but it does not change my paradigm on the matter. I hope you may appreciate the words. Life is something special. You only have the opportunity to make the most out of this world once and it would be a shame to waste it on attempting to become better than the people around you. You are fooling yourself into the correct assumption. You feel life is about the people, but where your conclusion is erroneous is that it is about sharing life with people. Life is not about being better, but about being with. Authenticity is a tricky subject. No one holds all the answers to what is an authentic life, it would be a shame to get through life and have to look back and say, “Wow, I did that wrong”. The authentic emotions of life are experienced through allowing people into your life…and more specifically, allowing people into your heart.