As I finished reading the classic novel, Black Boy by Richard Wright something he said intrigued me more than anything else in the book. While speaking about one of his political comrades, Wright summarized that Green, “knew how to die better than he knew how to live”. He went on to say, in regards to his Communist party affiliates, “They were more fearful of my ideas than they would have been had I held a gun to them; they could have taken a gun away from me and shot me with it, but they did not know what to do with ideas”. Take a second and think about the heaviness of those statements. These words were written nearly 70 years ago, yet the depth of his observations still resignates profoundly today. He captured the essence of a crippling condition we witness in people walking among us today. The inability to live, dream, and succeed as a result of our fears plagues generations of people.
As a teacher, I saw the impact of this grave mentality everyday. Many would say it is our youth who are hopeless. Sadly, segments of our populations could be characterized by these words. Our youth, middle-aged, professionals, and elders alike are all weighted down by hopelessness. Seems that we live each day only looking forward to the next; in some cases the last. We feel blindsided by change which often sends us into a downward spiral of poor decision-making, depression, and recovery. All these lead to setbacks and stagnation; ultimately hindering our ability to live a happy fulfilling life. Granted, it is difficult to plan ahead when we cannot account for tomorrow. But what stops us from enjoying today?
Given the facts of our situation it does not make up for our lack of living properly. Why are we afraid to think? Why do we fail to try? The only thing we seem to embrace is money, power, and fame. When these factors are absent we become saddened. The popularity of social networks only offer us two forms of living. We are either up living the life; everything is good. The pictures on Facebook and Instagram reflect nothing but smiles. Or, we are down, depressed, and all is silent. The statuses are pessimistic, angry, and deem all to be doomed by the hellish victimization of capitalistic greed. This may be an exaggeration (not from my friend list though) but the point is this. This is not what life is about. I say all this from experience because I have been each of the two people I described. Riding the rollercoaster of life, getting off only to change rides leaves you drained and unsatisfied.
I challenge anyone who reads this to force themselves to live. Let’s not be afraid to live up to our full potential. Let us not cower at change and promotion. We should seek all this and more. Let fun and thrills be our reward for a life well lived.
If you are already satisfied, happy, and enjoying each moment and every day; then good for you. For those of us who live on autopilot hoping to get through one day only to take on the challenges of the next, lets stop right now. Think about what we can do to improve the quality of our life. (Note: quantity does NOT equal quality). What ideas can we formulate to help us get more out of each day we are blessed to live. Thrill seekers, opportunists, and now rappers often say, “you only live once” or YOLO. This is true but, you only die once too so let’s make sure we live before we die, because then it’s too late.