Updated: Jan 2, 2022
The saying: “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade” was on my mind when I woke up in this new year. So, I asked myself, what has life given me?
It might not be the politically correct thing to say, but I don’t think life has given me jack shit. I think life demands of us. The saying might be more appropriate if it were, “When life orders an omelet, you have to break some eggs.”
I think life demands that we learn and grow. I think life demands that we be respectful of each other and figure out a way to coexist. I think life is about experiencing joy, sadness, anger, curiosity … all the feelings, but I still am not convinced that life “gives.”
People give. Animals give. Life demands. Life asks. Life takes time and resources and thought.
Sure, I’m quibbling here, and playing with semantics, but it made me think of times when life demanded of me to learn or grow or just be a human person who cared about someone else even though I didn’t have to do so.
Friendship, for example, is about being alive, together, and open to all the unexpected gifts that come along with it.
This morning I was thinking about how life has given me some amazing friends and those relationships have come with some wonderful gifts. For example, one of my oldest friends gave me my first experience of being a pseudo-big brother, as well. This came out of being willing to sit and talk with my “little sister” and be there for her in a way that I had never really had a chance to be there for anyone else in my life.
The coolest thing about this is that when we see each other now, even though we aren’t a big part of each other’s lives, she always calls me her big brother from another mother or something like that. I don’t know if she knows how much this means to me, but I hope she does. It is one of the cool things that life demands of us, right? To just be there for another person when it is unexpected, totally unforced, and caring about their day or what is on their mind, or just listening to them. Social media allows me to be in contact with her and to see what she is up to, not like a stalker or anything, but just like a big brother from another mother.
Life demands that we make time for the people in our lives.
My first new year was 1970.
That’s weird to think about. It’s now 2022. The math behind those two numbers is staggering and so hard to wrap my mind around as I consider what it means. There have been so many first days.
My wife likes crack tv. Sometimes I get wrapped up in it, too, even though I often act like I’m ignoring it. Her current crack is the show, Greek. I don’t even know when it was on or what channel it was on, but it is funny to see some of the actors on it and how they moved on to better things. The writing is terrible, for the most part, but it does make me curious about the people who wrote the show. The question I have is whether they were just writing about their own experiences in the fraternity/sorority world or if that world is just so predictable that a bunch of monkeys with typewriters could bang out these scripts.
It also makes me realize that I am not bitter at all about not going through the whole fraternity thing in my very non-typical collegiate experience. I once shamed a high school buddy of mine who I ran into on Mill Avenue about the face that he was pledging a fraternity and he later thanked me for it. I’m also remembering, now, that a year or so after I shamed David for wanting to join a fraternity that my friend Laurel asked me to be her escort to a sorority thing.
It was late in 1988 and I was living in an apartment with Jeff, Michael, and Brian on Clarendon and 27th street. Laurel needed an escort to the big deal event that was being held at the Pointe South Mountain. We had to drive to a place and meet an open-air trolley-type bus to get driven to the ball thingy. I was being a dick, as usual, because the sorority type people and their dates seemed like terrible people to me and when we got to the Pointe I essentially refused to go in and chastised Laurel for wanting to be part of such bullshit. She was really mad at me, but luckily, we were able to catch the trolley before it left and got a ride back to her jeep.
Later, she thanked me for what I did that night but if I remember correctly, she was pretty pissed at me for a while. As I type this, I’m thinking about life giving you things or demanding things and I am feeling pretty convinced that life “gives” us nothing. We have to take and make our opportunities. Sometimes, because we care, we must demand that our friends make and take opportunities for themselves, as well.
What made me so high and mighty, though, at 18 or 19 about the Greek life? Was I jealous? I don’t think so. Sometimes I do wish I would have had a more typical college experience like living in a dorm or being more involved in things that happened on campus, but life demanded something different of me in those days. I didn’t really even understand what college actually was or could be or what it meant to be an actual student until I was about 23. Before that, school was just something to do and something to complain about and something to fight against.
Now, though, I love being at school. Truly. When life wants an omelet, you definitely have to break some eggs (and, occasionally, hearts).