I’ve had time to process the results of the US presidential election for a few days now. It was like going through grief all over again, and it sucked. I know it’s naive to believe that we cannot possibly go through so much pain in such a short span of time. I know that simply wishing for a good outcome or staying positive will not bring us what we want. But it was so nice to live in that bubble.
I guess this is a wake up call for many of us. To truly open our eyes and see people and places and institutions for what they really are, instead of what we would like for them to be. It’s a rude awakening, because we’re so used to playing it safe (especially us millennials who are cautious enough as it is). But playing it safe never allowed us to fully live for ourselves.
We are mortal beings. We’re going to die someday. That is a fact we cannot change and one that many of us are still grappling with until we go over to the other side. But once we face our mortality, we still have options. We can ignore it and dawdle in our daily lives. We can live recklessly in order to feel like we’re cheating death. We can plan for the future and ignore the present. We can be good today and hope that it carries over into the future. We can be as mindful, as cautious, as free, as loving, as creative, as decisive, as we want. The question we must ask ourselves is: what do I live for? what is my purpose while I’m here?
When I woke up on Wednesday morning after a fitful night of sleep, I didn’t want to get up. But I did. The one thing that got me out of bed was realizing just how important my work is for my community. By extension, I suppose I also realized just how important I am to the people I serve through my work.
Because here’s the thing: Life happens whether you make it or not. No matter what we long for, no matter how much we can take action and influence others, the outcome is something we cannot control or predict. But does that stop us from trying? Does that stop us from making plans for the future when we don’t even know if we’ll get to see those plans come to fruition?
No. But we keep going. It’s the only way we know how to live. We humans have this relentless desire to create legacy. And what is a legacy? It’s planting seeds in a garden you never get to see (thanks, Hamilton). We know that we may never see how the seed will grow, whether that seed will become what we have envisioned. And we’re fine with that. Perhaps we even prefer that. Because we have to make ourselves aware and appreciate that what we do is enough, and to leave the rest up to time.
Life goes on, and so must you.