Pursuit of the Living
We all strive for it
It is what we live for, after all.
Some achieve it, to some degree,
While others do not, yet they try and try ‘till the day they die
One does not think much about the future
About where they’ll be in sixty years
Or what they will experience in those sixty years,
Should they even live that long
We are all sold on the idea of happiness
We are all sold on the American dream
Believing that in the end we all have it
That in our last days we will be living comfortably in a house of our own adorned with pink roses and
We’ll be retired and surrounded by our loving family full of many children and grandchildren
And that we’ll always be next to the ones we love
But, as I came to learn,
That is not the case
My eyes were opened.
Working a maintenance job in the Redwood Forest,
Surrounded by elderly tourists
And by elderly coworkers,
I heard their life stories
And my eyes were opened
One coworker, over 70 years old
Living alone in a rental home that was falling apart,
Living in a bad neighborhood full of violence and drugs,
Living a life that was falling apart at the seams,
Refusing to get help from the county, or from anyone at that matter,
Refusing to retire, as her job was all she had,
Lived a horrible life full of poverty, loneliness, abuse, and hate,
She had lost everything and all reason to live several years ago when her lover passed away,
His children took everything away from her
They were not her children, they did not care for her,
Nor about what happened to her
Since she lived in his house, drove his vehicles, and relied on him fully
She was left with nothing.
She had no children and no other family of her own.
She had no money; whatever money she earned went to rent and food,
She had none saved up, and nothing for retirement,
And no one was there to take care of her.
Yet, everyday she tried to get her coworkers to smile
To enjoy life despite the roadblocks
Yet, she was still lonely
Her big, watery, dull, and yellow eyes
Told the story of her loneliness
All the while another co-worker
About sixty years of age
Was living the American dream,
She was living proof that one does occasionally achieve happiness
She had a house of her own
Had a loving husband
Five children who all loved her dearly
Many grandchildren, who also loved her dearly,
When she told stories of her grandchildren, you could see the pure joy emanating
From her bright, shining, blue sparkly eyes
The lonely coworker of 70 would hear those stories
And everyone could feel the solitude, depression, and jealousy emanating from her
She always seemed on the verge of tears when hearing those stories
Yet, the seemingly perfect coworker was so wrapped up in joy about her grandchildren,
That she never took notice
She never felt the loneliness wandering around the room
These two, polar opposites of each other in terms of life,
Were the ones who opened my eyes.
Two destinations on opposite sides of the spectrum
Serving as a way to teach me that my life could turn out like either one of them
That the possibility of my dreams not coming true are as strong of a possibility as them coming true
After all, the pursuit of the living is happiness
Everything we work for,
All of our time and energy spent,
Every one of our relationships and friendships,
Every aspect of life controllable by us,
Is to gain happiness.
Regardless of whether we will have it or not,
It’s the pursuit that intrigues us, that keeps the living going.
I’m 17, almost 18 now
I will soon be out of the nest that sits atop a redwood tree
Moved away from my parents’ home among the daffodils
Conducting my own pursuit of life and happiness
I don’t know where I’ll end up,
But that’s the beauty of the pursuit.
One will never know until they are there,
Whether among the beautiful flowers or the weeds,
One will never know.
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