Life is an experience worth living, however many give up on this opportunity. Taking someone’s word is essentially giving up on a chapter in life. It’s about learning through each and every experience; taking the time to capture that deep breathe and acknowledge the beauty of life. I believe in learning through the sweat, tears, and smiles life provides.
My views on life come from what I have experienced, not what I have been told. Although anyone who has been involved in my life has helped to shape me as a person I only trust what I have been through. Life is about learning; learning through emotions and lessons taught through tragedies and triumphs.
My parents encouraged me to keep an open mind through everything I would eventually experience. I was raised among a self-sufficient family in a small Western Massachusetts town. At six years old I taught myself how to cut and split firewood to keep the house warm during the winter; several years later how to catch fish to eat during the summer months. The values and lessons I hold true have come from such experiences; experiences which must be lived through in order to grow as a person.
I never worked the typical restaurant or retail job. My idea of work was using my own two hands; whether it be working on a farm or as a carpenter. I learned through long hours, hard work, and through the lessons each job provided me with for the rest of my life. Lessons like framing a house or using a chainsaw; skills which undoubtedly will remain useful throughout my life. This outlook on life stems from numerous experiences as well as a particular situation.
It was a warm July night on Cape Cod Massachusetts that reaffirmed my outlook on life. My friend and I headed off to a local pier to do some night fishing. As we sat on the splintered dock we were joined by two older men. They came separately and were as much strangers to each other as they were to us. As we began conversing I couldn’t help but take interest in the stories of the man to my right. He told stories of fishing and all the good and the bad he had been through; stories of working on fishing boats, waking up and feeling like moving to the opposite end of the country, and even a failed attempt at starting his own lobstering business. In an attempt to match this, the man sitting to the left other side told stories, but they were very different. Each and every experience he talked joined in and told stories. The stories had a much different tone; tales of almost and could haves. Rather than describe what he had done the man focused on what mortgages and dedication to work had caused him to miss. The night will not be remembered for any fishing tales but by simple stories from a simple man. Stories which went on for hours because he hadn’t taken no for an answer. He lived life by his own rules. To my left, a man with a story; his with pages and even sometimes chapters of life skipped over because of he had fallen into the norms of society. Although I never learned either of their names, I was able to open a new chapter to my life.
Rather than live my life through the words of others as many do, I want to live for the experience. When I have nothing to do with my nights, I’ll tell stories; stories of what I have experienced and not of what I regret. As long as life is kept simple the book will write itself. No matter how my life is written I’ll be sure my story is full; there will be no missing pages in my book.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.