Life is beautiful. Wait. Let me do that again. Life is beautiful. On the good days.
It is, isn’t it? I mean, that’s what we’re told since we’re young. Life is amazing. A thousand times, a thousand different voices. It is what you make it. You get out of it what you put into it. Hard work pays off. On and on and on. Like a record player skipping on the same note again and again. Make it stop. But they’re right. Occasionally. But sometimes just sometimes, life is shit.
I don’t have the answers. I don’t even have all the questions. I do know a few things though. We all pretend from time to time. Everything is great, we say. Our job, relationships, life. But it’s not. It can’t be. We’re afraid of being real. Honest. Truthful. Have faith. It’s about the litle victories. The small hurdles overcome. A good day. Sometimes even a good hour. It’s about being truthful to ourselves. And better yet, being okay with that. Because it is okay. Flawed is good.
Nobody has the perfect job. Sure, everybody has great days but there are other days when…. Nobody has the best relationship, be it with their spouse or parents or children or friends. Times we feel forgotten or taken for granted. We all have our moments of fits. Days when we just want to hide or move away or get away. From everyone and everything. Let’s face it. Life is difficult. Hard and challenging and real. And there are no do-overs.
I notice it within. And all around me. People feel neglected. Kids acting up. Parents trying hard but feeling like it’s never enough. Thankless jobs. Overtime. Diet and weight loss and weight gain. Bills. Money. Health and illness. Pain and suffering. Divorce. Depression. Bad news. It’s all around us and will swallow us up if we want it. Allow it.
Let’s face, it’s not always fun. If life were easy we’d all be great at it. Presidents and world leaders and you name it. Pick your title, it’s yours. It doesn’t work that way. And that’s what makes it enjoyable. A challenge. To make strides and improve and do our best and hope that one day there’s a rainbow with our name on it. With my wife at my side, I’m looking for it. Searching far and wide. And deep inside. Small steps, good moments and enjoying the good things when we have them. In our grasp.
And it’s about recognizing the beautiful things all around us, when it’s around us. Not later, because later becomes never. Telling people we love them while we can. Finding more balance. Learning to say sorry, and accept apologies. And when life gets really hard, push back and try harder. And harder still.
There are plenty of years ahead of me, hopefully more than the number behind me. And I’ve had some wonderful triumphs. Major life victories. But it hasn’t always been great. There have been bumps along the way. Chances to turn back the clock. I wasn’t always a great son. I’m not the perfect husband. My friendships could have been stronger at times. I am not bulletproof. I carry a pocket full of failures as my witness. Regret has paid me a visit on more than a few occasions. But I pick myself back up and try, and then try harder. Because the alternative is giving up. And, no thanks.
So today, as I sit by my rain speckled window and reflect on a week since the loss of my job, I thank God for the place I’m in. I’ve made mistakes, but I’ve bounced back. I’ve lost battles, but the war rages on. And I’ve been heart-broken only to find the greatest love imaginable. And I’m okay with every single thing. My past. My present. The future.
I long for spring and the change it brings, both physical and psychological. My future is bright, only temporarily dimmed. And I move forward expecting to hit rough patches, cry a little along the way, dust myself off and keep going. And I make a point of enjoying the small things that come my way. The small stuff adds up.
Enjoy it. All the days I have left with my parents. Every single moment with my wife. Friendships, old and new and broken and repaired. And tomorrow. Whatever that brings. But for today, it includes this bowl of soup as I stare at the rain-soaked ground and am so thankful I’m still here for the bumpy ride. Life. It’s beautiful. Most days.
From me to you,
Sweet Potato, Lentils & Rice Soup
- 1 medium sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1″ cubes
- 1 large carrot, peeled and cut into thick slices
- 1 small onion, peeled and diced
- 1 tbsp. olive oil
- 1/2 cup red lentils
- 1/4 cup rice
- 4 cups vegetable stock
- 1 cup coconut milk
- 2 tsp. cinnamon
- 2 tsp. cumin
- 4 tbsp. grated Parmesan, garnish
- In a large saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. Saute the onions with the cinnamon and cumin for five minutes, or until softened.
- Add the stock, sweet potatoes, carrots and lentils and cover and simmer until the sweet potato is tender, about 20 minutes.
- Stir in the coconut milk and rice and increase the heat to a medium-high, cover and cook until the rice is cooked through, about 25 minutes.
- Ladle into bowls and sprinkle Parmesan over top. Serves 4-6.