A while back, I was told the following by my neighbours upstairs who were having a get-together and having a good time well into the morning around the time I was heading to bed…

“Life is short, you gotta live it not bitch about it.”

“Sorry for having fun. Life is short so live it, don’t complain about it.”

Funny thing is, I wasn’t bitching about their fun, or the noise they were making. I was just commenting that my choice of sleepy time was poor. Yet they made me think about something that is important and valid to everyone out there.

Who defines your life?

In this case, their revelry was an indication of how full their life was. In their way, they were defining how one (IE: me) should live and enjoy their life by their actions, and that anyone “bitching” or “complaining” about it, wasn’t living their life.

This is something I’ve dealt with on and off for decades, mostly stemming from the fact I don’t drink. In a previous blog, I stated the reasons why I don’t drink (my Dad, how stupid and reckless loved ones can act and speak when drunk, etc.). You can imagine how this affected my social life, especially during my teenaged-years. When everyone else was getting shit-faced, I was watching them get shit-faced and wondering how quickly I could leave.

All through those years, through college, as an adult, from new acquaintances, to family, people always wondered why I didn’t drink, or why I wasn’t having fun. “You ok?” they’d ask. “You seem quiet?” “You having a good time?” They’d suggest I “Have a drink! Life is too short! Drink it up!” and so and so forth. Getting questions and comments like those  from people I barely know didn’t matter. But when it was so-called friends, and family members who I thought knew me, that was always a little frustrating.

Fortunately, I’ve always gone my own way. I’ve also been fortunate enough to have a few close friends and the odd family member who understood and accepted me. They never questioned if I was living my life to the fullest, because they knew me enough to know that the things I did enjoy made my life enjoyable.

Which brings me to my point. That no one, NO ONE should define what life is to you.

Everyone enjoys their lives differently. Some party it up. Some need the company of peers to make themselves feel a part of something. Some seek to control others so that their lives continue along smoothly. Some believe being hard, without compassion, will protect them, even when they seem to be smiling. There are many more ways, good and bad, to live one’s life to the fullest. If that brings them happiness, or some level of comfort, so be it, as long as it doesn’t hurt others. If it does, then they should step back and re-evaluate.

So, what would I consider living life to the fullest? Well, it has evolved over the past couple of years, but there are some that have never changed…

My imagination has always given me freedom, long before I decided to do something concrete with it in writing. Some would mock a person sitting inside all day writing or creating. But when everything is clicking, it can fill me with such joy.

I’ve always enjoyed nature. As a kid, I’d play outside whenever I could. As an adult, I enjoy taking walks, allowing my mind to wonder about life, history, and anything else. Those peaceful moments can wash away so much tension and negativity.

Escaping reality has always been fun. In this case, it means reading books, watching TV or movies. Some of my best memories were from one summer when I used to take a bus to the movie theaters. It was a long ride, but that summer was a particularly good. I always had music playing on my headphones, and I enjoyed watching and chatting with people. There was always a taboo about going alone to the movies, but honestly, some of the best times I’ve had were those days. Now, as much as I still enjoy the company of friends at the movies, I prefer the freedom of going alone.

Enjoying life doesn’t always mean doing it alone! I have dear friends, who have known me for decades, whose company always makes me laugh. Our talks range from things occurring in our adult life, to the stupid things we did as teens. We may not see each other as often, but when we do get together, it’s just like old times.

But one of things that continually fills my life with hope and pride is my nieces and nephews, particularly the oldest ones who are on the brink of adulthood themselves. There was a time when we were all best friends. Their youthfulness kept me young. Although that closeness has faded as they got older, beneath all the current teen/ young adult trappings, I see the potential good in them. I see the kind of people they will become. If they can retain brilliance, ingenuity, and spirit they have, they will become brighter and better than their parents, than all of us.

Life also means the future. There was a time when it didn’t. There are dark days I still question my life and the future, whether I should be in it or not. But those days are like when you stub your toe, and no matter what you do, that toe is the recipient of all manner of other damage. Normally, I don’t think about the future per se, but I work at making it better. I strive to be better, to be less negative, to show compassion instead of ignorance and anger. It is always a work-in-progress, but so is life.

The things I mentioned are just some examples of how I live life to the fullest. They may be completely different from how you enjoy your life, or they may share some similarities. However you celebrate life, do it honestly. Do it because you truly enjoy it, not because others push you to do it.

If there’s any negativity to how you enjoy your life, whether it be to you or to those around you, then you might be doing it wrong.

 

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