We all want easy.
I love easy: I long for it. I search for it. I pray for it, but the truth is when I think about the people I most admire, I realize they are the ones whose lives have been far from easy. The best-kept secret in life is that if you only do the easy things, you will always remain weak.
I love people who manage to do the best with un-easy lives. I love people who do not wallow, who do not blame, who do not hide from difficulties. They aren’t resentful or woe-is-me. I love people who love people, who love life, who love to laugh.
I most admire the people who show up for themselves, time and time again.
I most admire the people who get up time and time again knowing that life may kick them down at any moment. They know they’ve got the grit and the faith to keep going, so they do. I most admire people who can keep perspective and humor throughout it all.
I have a favorite aunt who has done nothing but smile through a life that is far from easy. She and my uncle raised four boys during the Vietnam era. Those boys were raised in the two-bedroom house my uncle built when he came back from the war. Money was always tight. Her life was far from the American dream, and yet, in many ways, it is the dream: to laugh every day, to build a life of faith and love and integrity, to love the same man for decades until death do you part , to have enough money to travel, to see great-great-grandchildren thrive, to enjoy the company of friends and relatives, to provide countless meals to the homeless, to be a beacon of unconditional love for every person who you encounter.
That is my aunt. Perhaps her life is more of the American dream than 2.5 kids, a dog, a mini-van and soccer practices.
Living in a bubble doesn’t make for a great life. Living in a bubble, with parents hoovering, producing money and vacations and cars and jobs and smooth sailing doesn’t make you strong.
Enduring difficult stages in life gives you grit.
Figuring out your own path, making do, clinging to faith and loved ones for support in the bad times…these things make you strong. These things build bonds. These things make you appreciate the beautiful and the blessings. Facing cancer head-on gives you an appreciation for life, for people, for health. Burying your beloved makes you vulnerable. Courage, faith, humor, resiliency, love, and compassion will take you where you need to be in life. Ease will get you resentment and unsatisfaction.
Want to be strong? Want to be happy? Prepare for the difficult.
An easy life won’t make you happy. An easy life won’t make you satisfied. An easy life will make you weak, unfulfilled, unable to cope. It will leave you feeling empty. Grit and resiliency and courage and strength are earned. The key to happiness is to walk through what makes you strong, not what is easy.
But in the end, those who put their time in and acquire these ‘gifts’ spread joy and wisdom wherever they go. Theirs is the inspired life, the authentic life, the happy life. Their life will be lived fully, warts and all. Their life was lived minute by minute not to appear perfect to others. Their life was lived minute to minute to climb whatever mountain of joy or grief or poverty or anger or fear lay before them.
Determination and unwillingness to be discouraged by hard living are what makes for joy and happiness in the end.
Look at those people who never give up, who smile, who love, who are unashamedly themselves, who care little about keeping up appearances or comparing themselves to others. There you will find inspiration for living.