Let’s say that at the end of each person’s final birthday on earth, he (or she) receives a score for how well he did at the real game of Life. Who would score the highest?
Would it be the person who has had the most joy? This person probably had few hardships, and was always surrounded by family and friends. Perhaps he had connections into a nice career and wealth. He lived a pretty pain-free life without starvation, heartbreak, and depression. He perhaps experienced a small range of emotions, but all the emotions he did experience were the “good” ones. He knew little of the spectrum of experiences, but by all accounts came out the “winner.”
Perhaps the winning person would be the one who was most content. This person probably lived in the same town most of his life, not looking for much but finding fulfillment in the little he had. He focused on the day-to-days of food and entertainment and love and really went through life piece by piece. He may not have been the richest man, or the most traveled, but he was always “alright” with things and he knew that he had conquered his world, however small it was.
Or perhaps the winner would be the person who has experienced everything. He wasn’t afraid to accept and soak in the loneliness or sadness or conflict when it came around. He embraced it, recognizing it as a full-rounded experience. He fell in love and had his heart broken, he shot for a career and failed but shot for another and succeeded. He felt deeply the pains of aging and soaked in every joy and embarrassment of youth.
As I’ve clearly spun the article, I believe that the winner would be the third man. It seems that in life we’re raised to avoid negative emotions at all costs, whether it be anger, pain, disappointment, heartbreak, or sadness. I’ve spent most of my life so far this way. We’re taught to “never touch the stovetop” at all costs. But at the end of life, don’t you want to look back and really feel that you’ve felt the whole spectrum? Don’t you want to look back on your break-ups and failures and depressions and feel a bit more “human”?
Life is a beautiful thing. I believe that it can be even more beautiful, not as we shun our “bad experiences,” but as we recognize each as a wonderful part of our existence.