In Omnia Paratus

Heather Day, Business Manager

Sometimes I really like to think of my journey to this very moment. I like to imagine all of the puzzle pieces from each chapter of my life coming together to form a clearer picture of what is happening now. I could tell you many moments of my life that would provoke sympathy and charity. I’ll be the first in any group of people to relate to an unfortunate series of life events that can drastically change who you are. I have never heard of a life story without a few catastrophes, and trust me –I will indulge in a life story like you are my best friend. There was a time in my life that it was very difficult for me to remember good times. My mind was clouded with such melancholy that every joy from my past was smothered underneath. There was simply no way of remembering the good times without a memory of its fatal partner. This sounds a bit dramatic, right? I don’t mean to give myself some trophy of trauma, but I do want you to trust that I understand what hard times are like.

I wasn’t set up for greatness. I wasn’t even really set up for average. I broke generational traditions when I graduated high school, and I got bonus points for not being a mother at the time too. I went to school like it was my extracurricular activity. We were poor. Poor like sleeping bags on cold floors and picnics in the living room at dinner. Frozen salisbury steak was a special night and birthday cakes came from the clearance rack, but I. Never. Went. Without. The world had shown me very early that it did not love me, but my mom made up for that every time. She had a way of making every horrible situation something else. She would dance in the kitchen and sing like the world could never hurt her. She taught me to love things that no one else could take away. We would sit and watch the sunset and she would tell me stories of it disappearing in the ocean. I always imagined this great ball of light sitting in the deepest part of the water to share its joy with other life. She would talk about ants and how amazing they were to be able to carry what they do. We would sit in the floor and she would draw out the whole solar system and tell me how small everything really was. We would talk about everything, and our conversations have never stopped. To this day there is not a single person that I would rather call than her.

I think growing up I always felt like I was missing out or playing catch up, and to some extent those are both true statements. Life was hard and it didn’t get much easier until college. When I was in the thick of it all, it is all that I saw. I did not see a lot of good in the world. I was sad and angry and hurt. I compared myself to people all the time. I wanted the opportunities they had or the family dynamic they had. I painted perfect pictures in my head of exactly what would make my life better, so much so that in high school I was finally called out for living in a fantasy all the time. But that was surely better, right? I would rather live in the made-up world than the real one. A lot of my high school years were spent faking every moment. I had so much going on at home that I could not grasp any understanding of optimism and preferred living in a disassociated state. There are several months of time in those years that I have no memory of. I was alive but I was only barely existing.

I’m not sure when the dramatic change of hating life to loving it happened. One minute I was crying and the next I was counting raindrops on a window. Life was so fast that of course everything started wrecking. I had to slow down and make myself look beyond the smothering cloud of melancholy. Because when every part of my life is falling to pieces, there are still trees growing, flowers blooming, flamingos turning pink, and babies giggling for the first time. There is life to appreciate if we will just look around.

Fast forward to 2023 and a friend tells me I have a “zest for life.” I asked him what he means by this and he went on to explain that I just have a “positive outlook” on most things. Little to his knowing, this was the biggest compliment. At the time, he knew nothing of my past. I went on to think about his comment for several days. I felt beyond lucky to have gone through the things I had and come out being describes as having a “zest for life.” Here’s where I wish I had the ten steps of a self-help book to tell you how to get here, and as someone who has read quite a few self-help books, none of them can make you appreciate life.

I told you about my mom because among all the things that I was envious of others for knowing how to do, I never realized my mom was teaching me a simple appreciation and love for life. As a kid, she was proof that in every bad situation there was good. I grew up and gained perspective. I learned that all my years of living in a fantasy world still taught me more about reality than what the majority of people knew.

We get so focused on the events of life and the tasks of society that we do not appreciate the things worth living for. I have a zest for life not because I don’t see the bad, but because I can see bad. I know its always going to be there. I have read so many books and listened to so many people’s story and the only common thing about all of them is conflict. Conflict is there and it is very real. I do not want to come off as diminishing or belittling your story. I simply want to remind you to look around and love life. Slow down. Buy real flowers instead of fake ones. Enjoy their life even though it is quick, and yes, they will die, but if we really start having a mindset that things that die don’t matter, we have bigger problems. They are a beautiful part of life and you get to enjoy it. Go watch some freakin’ ants and remember how much smaller the Earth is compared to the Sun. Look at a tree and wonder how many leaves are on it. Let rain ruin your hair. Make a mess in the kitchen. Watch your little sister learn to use a pencil. Let your dog sniff all the bushes. Eat the brownie. Sit in silence. And goodness, call your mom and try to memorize her laugh.

Life is so much more than all the bad, I promise.