How do you describe it? What rightfully fits after the cowardly scapegoat of a comma? Life, nothing else can be said. Whatever it is, and whatever makes it up, that’s it. The heavy loaded word consists of so many different things, good and bad, and we just have to live them.
As I sit here on a Sunday evening, after a tremendously fun weekend with friends, I find my mind wandering towards certain things about this funny word. Things you consider when you have time to sit down, and decompress.
Being abroad is miraculous, stimulating, and experiential to the point where I could not imagine myself or my life having never embarked on these experiences. It reminds me of how much exists in the world that can surprise you, and make you smile and laugh like a newborn child. And at the same time, it makes me notice the fleeting manner, the view of our lives as a continuous reel. Footage plays, and continues to play. Without a pause, rewind, or fast forward function. At certain moments in the reel you might want something else, but it isn’t that convenient. Our best bet is to savor what is playing.
And right now I want my family. I want everything I already have in my reach, with the addition of everything else that I do not.
There are certain things about being abroad that are difficult, no doubt. It is difficult being away from home: friends, familiarity, a certain identity that resides in each place you live. You can’t call your mother, or your best friend, whenever you think about them. You don’t have the option to see certain people, even if you might not have been likely to go through with that option if you did.
The distance itself creates some sort of painful sense of separation. But it is most difficult to process the fact that being “away” is a consistent, and persevering element of living life as a young adult.
It is difficult to be okay with the fact that I will not be around everyone I love for the rest of my life. Family members will pass, friends will move, and you continue to live your life. Sometimes in places or through experiences that do not necessarily include the people you want them to.
I begin to think of the extraordinary experiences I will enjoy in the future, and the one I am already enjoying at this very moment: travels, opportunities, discoveries about myself and about the world. Some of these experiences will be in different places, with different people, and at different times. I might be away from certain family, certain friends, and certain comforts. And in some sense this hurts. To imagine that, although surrounded by those I love, I will be away from others I love at any given moment.
It hurts the most when I think about my family. My brother, my mother, my father. My grandmother, my cousins, my aunts and uncles. The Christmas dinner we have together every year. It is painful to recognize that eventually everyone must grieve for their parents. I cry at the thought of a future without them.
It hurts so much emotionally, but in a way that seems less like grief than it does celebration. There is nothing negative about any of the pain I feel for what I love about this life. It hurts, but it hurts for thing that are inherently good.
And really, it is just weird. Really, really weird. To look at life and see it as a bare construction of good parts and not so good parts. To realize that it is impossible to have love without loss. Two letters of difference, separate the two words that can change your entire world.
I hurt, but I do not anguish. Because nothing about loss or love is futile. Nothing about this strange, fleeting property of life leads to a dead end. Because it is all worth living. It is beautiful, and it is wonderful.
We should not shy away from life because it changes along its course, we should meet it boldly with as much passion as our bodies can handle. We should feel all the love, all the joy, all the confusion, and all the pain. Because that is the only way to understand it.
And in seeing this pain, and recognizing this reality, I understand something.
I understand that the parts we are away from the people and things we love hurt.
I understand that the parts we are with the people and things we love heal.
And I understand that it is during these parts that we should do our best to appreciate, savor, and be present. Because these are the best parts.