People die. People get sick, and they die. People have tragic accidents, and they die. People disappear forever. People die.
Death is solely the most profound act of life that dictates how we live. Everyone knows someone who has died, but not everyone has experienced a death of a close friend or relative. I believe this is the turning point.
If you are scared of death, you probably haven't had anyone close to you die. Because death is a beautiful letting go, no matter the circumstances. The last deep breath of air, a total state of relaxation, and a final release. The battle leading up to death is the hard part, the easy part is letting go.
So, knowing that people die, regardless of how you feel about death, should dictate how you feel about and treat people. And no one that you truly love deserves a "ya."
I am not afraid of death. I don't ever remember a point in my life where the thought of one day perishing frightened me. This is not a statement of faith about the greatness of heaven or an afterlife, but an honest belief that everyone I love will get on just fine without me. And I do believe that. I've experienced death on a number of levels, and after the cloud of grief dissipates, there are beautiful memories that dance around inside of you daily. The people in your life that deserve a "you" will come to realize that you have effected them in ways they never recognized before.
Some people live their whole lives searching for a legacy. STOP! You are leaving one whether you are aware of it or not. You don't have to write 50 best selling novels. You don't have to win a Nobel Peace Prize. You don't have to write your name in history by joining a governmental office. And you don't even have to smile all of the time. All of those things will become worthless. Regardless of your station in life, be genuine with those you care about. Be concerned with matters of their heart and expect them to be concerned with yours. Respect everyone without hesitation. Trust everyone and know that they may not deserve your trust. Work hard for what you believe in, because talk means nothing. Remember how to play. Life is just a game, and it starts getting nasty when the competition outweighs the lesson. Tell people, truly tell people, how you feel.
Think of one person who died and it made you happy. That is a really difficult task. For example, the world hated Michael Jackson because he was different and because he was accused of molesting young boys. When he died, the majority of those people were saddened by his death. They didn't forget about the allegations, but they did set aside those feelings of betrayal and mourned for a man who influenced their lives.
The biggest influences are from the people who are unaware of their influence. My third grade teacher, Mrs. Cahill, taught me how to master the times table. I still think about her when I have to calculate a tip at a restaurant. My softball coach at BSC, Coach Perry, was brutal to me to get what she needed out of me. I think about her and those experiences every time I am faced with a difficult situation. A dad of one of my players my first season at ND got in my face and questioned a decision I made. I think about him any time I have to engage in a hard conversation. Influence.
Your influence in someone's life is all that you need to imprint yourself upon someone forever. And above all, it must be genuine. If I tried to make an influence on you, you would recognize that I am trying; trying is not genuine. Just be. And be happy.
I have a friend who, at this current moment, is struggling with finding someone who he can share his life with. We have had several conversations regarding the matter. All I can keep telling him and all I can think of is stop trying so hard. In my experience, in life and love, if you cannot be satisfied in the here-and-now, how can you expect to be satisfied after your search ends? How can you be so certain that the one thing you want most in life is going to satisfy that yearning? And that the one thing you are searching for has something to do with another person and their feelings. To me, this leaves happiness too much at chance. Happiness can't depend on an uncontrollable. If Matt walked away today or if something happened to him, I would be devastated, but my overall happiness in life would remain intact. I cannot control Matt and his decisions or what happens to him. I enjoyed life before him and I will enjoy life after him. And I don't feel like that takes away from our relationship. I honestly think part of that is what makes our relationship, and most successful relationships, work. Matt would be fine without me. I would be fine without Matt. But we have chosen to be happy together.
Yoda says, "Do or do not. There is no try." And while his voice is creepy, those words are true. Whatever station you have reached in your life, you have learned something from past experiences to prepare you for that moment. So there is no trying necessary. There is action, reaction, and result. The result could be good or bad, but you move on. You move on.
And you can be happy. Nowhere in our DNA is there an imprint for optimist or pessimist, happy or unhappy. These are choices that we make, whether conscious or subconscious. Depression, to some degree, is a choice. I cannot deny scientific evidence, but I believe that depression stems from a point of ignoring good. Things get bad in life. I get it. Really, I promise, I do. But being able to recognize that place between depression and sadness only means finding something good and hanging on to it. Finding something good, and not overanalyzing it. Letting it be good, and letting it make us happy.
I have some very special friends that make me very happy. One reason is that they find ways to "celebrate" over the most minute details. Celebration, at its core, is a foreign idea in our culture. We are taught to celebrate major market events: Memorial Day, Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving, etc. And sometimes, given the right situation, these marketed celebrations do not feel like a celebration. To me, and because of these friends, a real celebration means nothing but the simple fact that there is something to be happy about. Someone was really nice to me today at work: Let's Celebrate! Your new haircut looks really good: Let's Celebrate! There's college softball on TV: Let's Celebrate!
Happiness does not have to derive from the big moments. There is such a thing as unadulterated happiness. The initial moment of pure bliss before the rational mind takes over. No situation is perfect. It must be deciphered and picked apart and analyzed and decided upon. But the moment before all of that happens should sometimes allow for the happiness. People are not perfect. They must be lived with and talked to and seen and judged. But you can still love them.
If someone handed you a piece of paper and made you write down everything you thought about every one of your friends and it was going to be burned as soon as you finished writing, you'd realize that your friends aren't perfect. They have hurt you in ways that they are not aware of. They do things that you judge them for. They abandon you when you need them most. But you still love them. You still give them access to your heart.
I had a conversation in high school with a person who I still consider a "you." She, like me, had a very small group of people that were her "friends." And we came to the conclusion that we had a tiny gathering of people that we considered our "all the time friends" as well as a larger group of "weekend friends" and then an even larger group of "classroom friends." I think about this all the time. Because I have a lot of people that I would call my "friends," but there are different levels of friendship-dom that I don't know if we are able or willing to recognize. To me, no one is stuck in any particular class of friendship, because friendships ebb and flow. Its the willingness to recognize what someone is to you right now and what their potential is in the future. You still give them access to your heart, knowing that there is a great chance that they will fall through. That they can hurt you. But all relationships hang on this trust. All, relationships, not just relationships based on love in the romantic sense, take work.
People die. People come in and out of your life. And there is no shame or risk in saying "you," if you are content with "you" meaning something different to whom you are saying it and changing over time. If you feel it, say it. "Ya" is the scared, self-conscious "you." I love you. I do not "love ya."