Friday, January 10, 2014

On Choosing Mirth

Yesterday a friend of a friend died of a heart attack. He was young – my age, maybe a little older. It's hard to fathom that one day, your heart – this vital organ that you've never really paused to consider, for why would you? – will slow the beating of its atria and its ventricles and your life will end.

I don't mean to begin my first post on such a macabre note. It's just that there's a reminder in this, as is often the case when faced with the reality of an unexpected and untimely death. And to embrace the cliche, it's something along the lines of this:

Life is what you make of it.

I can be mad as hell that a young man lost his life so early (and I am). But I'm also grateful for my loved ones. I'm also motivated to try harder, to remain vital, to fight stagnation. But it's smaller things, too: I can be mad as hell that the dog woke me up at 5:45 a.m. again with the licking of her paws and the stretching yawns and the clicking of her nails on the floor and the resting of her head on the bed to whine into my ear. Or I can see it as a sweet way to shake off my sleep and embrace the day with her unique brand of enthusiasm. It's not hard to figure out which of these gets the day started on a better note. (And look at her. She totally wins. I can never stay mad for long.)

In short, I'm working to be a more grateful, curious, and happy person, and to pay attention to my heart – both iterations: organ and inner compass. I don't really know how to succeed at this, but I'll be damned if I don't try. I only have this one life, and I choose to make mirth.