Learning to Live

It was warm outside, the sun greeting us after a long winter. The trees were blossoming and raining down leaves that tickled the tips of our noses and entangled within our hair. We were sat upon an old childhood blanket sharing a bottle of apple cider, reminiscing on the months and the moments. Every once in a while, someone would walk by with a dog; she’d gasp, and I’d look behind me to be greeted by a new friend. The day was beautiful, another Sunday morning spent indulging in our hearts and in the time we had together. We walked through the trees and ran from the bumblebees and fed the ducks. These are my favorite days.

It’s easy to become distracted, our vision clouded by the things we “need” to do that never seem to cease. The homework multiplies in size and attending work becomes mundane. We eat less, and we push ourselves until there’s nothing left to be pushed. We fall asleep alone, and we snooze our alarm clocks the first hundred times each morning. We wake up not excited for the day but excited for the day to be over. 

It’s easy to forget what’s important to us, to our hearts, to our bodies. It’s easy to declare that we “don’t have time” or to declare that since it is a Tuesday we aren’t able to experience a wonderful day. It’s easy to limit ourselves, to limit the time we give to the things that bring us joy because we feel as though our “priorities”  hold more importance.

But what are our priorities? 

We spend so much of our lives being told to prioritize school or our jobs, to prioritize getting into college, making millions, and running a life we don’t enjoy because quantitatively we will have succeeded. And while yes, to a degree these things hold importance, they do not get to hold me by the throat and tell me how my life should be.

Contentment is a concept I’ve had trouble grasping recently. I do know that especially now, during arguably the busiest year of my high school career,  I lack it greatly, but I don’t know how to pull myself out of this disappointing cycle I’ve made my everyday life to be. Don’t get me wrong, there are good days and there are great days, but most days are simply discontenting. 

This feeling has made me reconsider my priorities lately. The realization that I am capable of controlling my life was ultimately freeing; I am allowed to prioritize things asides from school and my job. I am allowed to prioritize spending time with the love of my life, my silver lining, and I am allowed to prioritize eating three good meals a day and walking my dogs. I am allowed to prioritize writing and reading and learning asides from material assigned to me. I am allowed to spend a damn Tuesday without touching my physics homework to sing in the car with her at the tops of our lungs and go to bed at a decent hour.

Moments like that Sunday I described at the beginning are my silver-lining-moments, if you will. It’s easy to get trapped in the distractions—our homework, our jobs, our “obligations.” We can do homework and have dinner with the loves of our lives. We can attend work and schedule a day off every once in a while to breathe. We can fulfill our obligations without disregarding the necessity in contributing to our own happiness. We don’t have to pick and choose; good days aren’t limited to Saturdays and Sundays. 

I feel as though our silver-lining-moments don’t need to be so scarce—we can experience something beautiful on any given day. We can stay up late on a Wednesday and get Chinese take-out at 9 PM and kiss at red lights and talk to those we love and live every day as fulfilled as the next. While school and work and whatever else you may face may play a role in our everyday schedules, they do not rule them. Do what you need to do in order to ensure success, but also allow yourself time to enjoy your life.

My real priorities have become myself, my family, the love of my life, eating more and better, writing more, enjoying every Sunday, walking my dog, and driving with the windows down. Of course I have more, but as long as these things are present and prioritized in my life I can usually have a good day. 

Yes, I still do my homework and I attend my job, but I also eat dinner with her whenever I can, go outside to walk my dogs, take long baths when I’m stressed, and help my mom around the house. I give myself time to breathe, and time to experience my life asides from the things that try to control it. 

These silver-lining-moments, these moments of absolute contentment, should make up the most of everyone’s lives. 

By Ryan Vortisch

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