This life has been good to me; I cannot doubt that. The word “content” can best describe my day to day feeling, even during those instances when my metaphorical roller-coaster hits a snag. I remember that no matter how many highs I have or how many lows force me to reconsider my life’s purpose, this life has and will always be good and fair to those who know how to live it.
It has been fun these past eighteen years, and I know that if I died now I still would have hundreds of intriguing stories to tell St. Peter while we both assess the virtue of my time spent here, during the course of which I learned an ultimate truth: life is fair- you just have to live it. This realization came to me only recently and helped me climb from the depths of a stereotypical hormone-induced teenage depression, leaving that cozy feeling of content within me. Life is fair because it gives for everything it takes: for every problem I have faced and failed to resolve, I learned just one more way of how to fail at that resolution and how to avoid that path when it will inevitably rise again.
My happiness is tied with my success, and not to the pleasure of the moment. This desire for success has taken me through many a roller-coaster plunge, the steady climb to the top being my labors and euphoric drop at the end being the fruit that I coveted the entire journey. The journeys, however, are the rough part. Constant reassessments of my purposes and convictions, bouts with depressions, and setbacks from undeserving third parties hinder these journeys. Whenever these lows threaten to do me in, I remind myself of how fair life is. Dancing to “La Vida es un Carnaval” by Celia Cruz, la Reina de Salsa (the Queen of Salsa) never fails to reinvigorate my life’s philosophy within me. In this song, with notoriously optimistic lyrics, la Reina sings: “Todo aquel que piense que la vida es desigual tiene que saber que no es asi, que la vida es una hermosura; hay que vivirla.” The late guarachera crafted my life’s motto with her words: “All of those that think that life is unfair have to know that that’s not the case, that life is a beauty; one has to live it.” I owe her my philosophy as her voice still rings in my ears after her passing. She lived her life to the fullest even after she was exiled from her native Cuba, a feat that inspires me to make the best out of each situation no matter what life throws at me. Only a few years after her passing in 2003, my family and I went to see her show costumes in the Smithsonian American History Museum. The brightly colored and crazily tailored costumes coupled with old photos of la Reina smiling her gapped grin reminded me of the message she so fervently preached: la felicidad, or happiness. She made the best of her life in exile in the United States, refusing to refer to Cuba’s dictator as anything but ese señor, or “that man”. As in this case, life is fair- it’s just the people we live it with that present challenges.
I know how to live, and I believe that to succeed in this life one has to know just that. Make the best of what you have, and life will make what you have the best. Simple facts, simple lessons, and simple pleasures make this life worth living. ¡Hay que vivirla!
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