Life is a Gift


I don't know about you but I was glad to see 2021. 2020 was quite a challenging year. Many businesses and jobs were swept away. Livelihoods vanished and well over have a million lives have been lost to date. A racial awakening began to happen where many non-Blacks started to see how different American life is for their Black friends and neighbors because of George Floyd. Wherever you turn, ongoing and normalized disparities in education, healthcare, the justice system, and employment opportunities are upfront and center. On January 6th of this year, an armed mob stormed the Capitol in Washington DC in an attack against the U.S. Congress. Now our Asian-American friends and families are being threatened and attacked just because of their origin and the unjustified association with the COVID-19 virus. It seems the whole country has gotten high on something. But despite all the madness we hear and see, and all that has been lost, does life cease to be a gift?

There is no doubt that life is complicated and that bad things happen to good people but sitting around and over-debating the "Why" seems to me to be a pointless exercise. The bigger question ought to be, "What". What do we do with what has happened to us all? How do we make sense of what appears to be total nonsense? How do we respond with compassion, empathy, and with grace? How do we make good with whatever it is that we have left? It has been said that when terrible things happen to us we can either let it define us by making us portraits of anger and bitterness, or we can also allow it to destroy us by cowering into a corner, losing all hope, and simply wait for death or we can use it to strengthen us as we move forward much stronger despite the things we have suffered. I don't know about you but I have decided to choose the latter. I have elected to garner strength for everything I have suffered - discrimination, marginalization, being overlooked, dismissed, and reminded that being Black makes me unimportant, to be the fuel that propels me towards continuous improvement. It has reinforced the need to keep learning and keep growing because the only thing that can never be taken from us is what we have in our heads. 

Whatever life we have left is still some form of life. It is still a precious gift; one that we must do something significant with. When things are so bad that they become overwhelming, let's develop the courage to step outside of ourselves, breathe in the clean fresh air, and remind ourselves that whatever is occurring is only a snapshot of the big picture. There is still and always will be something left because as long as there is life, there is hope. This is where identity and purpose come into play. Let's remind ourselves who we are and why we are and use that knowledge to keep pressing forward. There will always be discrimination. There will always be those who choose to hate rather than love. The world has been that way since its inception. We hope that things change but we cannot use that as a barometer for how we will choose to live our lives. We must decide to live fully despite the imperfections of the world and the people in it. 

Refuse to live your gift of life in sadness and despair. A loss will at some point pay each one of us a visit and we get to choose how we respond. Struggle, pain, defeat, and grief are all parts of a well-seasoned life. It is impossible to have an appreciation of the gift of life if one has never experienced these things. So, go through them we must but be held captive by them, we must not allow. It is important to acknowledge these seasons when they arrive, give to them their due consideration but get back up again and keep walking. American painter and writer, Walter Anderson said: "Bad things do happen; how I respond to them defines my character and the quality of my life. I can choose to sit in perpetual sadness, immobilized by the gravity of my loss, or I can choose to rise from the pain and treasure the most precious gift I have - life itself." This means the stimuli is one thing but our response is what is most important.

Start to see the life you have today as a gift regardless of the state it's in. The conditions of our lives can always be adjusted if we dare to change. As long as we are alive, the life we have a gift. It is up to us to use it wisely. With each experience of the sunrise of another day, we get a new gift - a gift to be developed and shared with humanity. Life must never be taken for granted nor should it be wasted.

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