|words and photo by F LoBuono|
This is what I mean about living a full life. It is complete with the fullness of experience. I don't believe that any life is either all good, or all bad. It is a combination of the two. It's like a well played melody, executed by a talented duo. Each player is a master, taking turns leading, then following, one never more important than the other. Certainly, some of us experience easier paths to travel than others, but does that make someone's life truly more "complete" than another's? I don't think so. In fact, I think that the opposite may be true; we seem to learn more from our mistakes than we do from our successes. I think that most people are familiar with the slogan; that which does not kill us only makes us stronger. Most people believe that. However, do they live it? Can they reach a level of enlightenment that allows them to process ALL experience as just that; experience, and that ALL of it, regardless of the feeling it may produce in us, is a GOOD thing? It makes us FULL. We will have the lightheartedness that comes from the feeling of self-awareness this can produce. We will have the depth and strength of character that weathering difficult times can also bring. We will become complete, i.e. full human beings.
I've been thinking about Louis Taylor. He is the man recently released after serving 40 years for a crime that he did not commit (the so-called "Pioneer Hotel Fire", where 28 people perished). Even after new evidence has proven his innocence, he still was not legally exonerated. He was released on a legal technicality by declaring "no contest". The State of Arizona, where the fire took place, will not acknowledge any wrong doing in the original conviction. This is a travesty. Mr. Taylor was 16 when he was accused and convicted. He spent his ENTIRE adult life incarcerated. How can Mr. Taylor get those years back? Simply put, he cannot. They are gone forever. What, then, is Mr. Taylor to do? Is he to allow this bad, no TERRIBLE, experience to dominate the rest of his life? Will it benefit him to live in anger? Will he be happier bemoaning what has been lost? No, I don't think so. In fact, he, in so many ways, has already gotten past that. He used his time in prison to and that experience to improve his life in every way that he could under such dreadful conditions. He read and he learned. He claims to have earned a college degree during his incarceration. He prepared himself for his LIFE by not allowing himself to be consumed by hate and fear. He overcame. And he is a GIANT for it. What a HUGE human being Mr. Taylor must be!! He is FULL. I saw his first interview after his release (CBS News' Bill Whitaker) and he wept bitterly when he thought about how much he had lost. Who wouldn't? But it was also obvious to me that his path clearly lies ahead, not behind. It is part of what he is, but not ALL.
This is what we must look to accomplish with our lives. We must learn to accept life on ITS terms. This does not mean blind reservation to one's fate, either. We should not go gently into that good night. I, for one, have the nature to keep fighting to the bitter end. But there is an end. This is nature's way. So, at some point, we accept this without reservation. We should not live in fear. ALL life is good - even the BAD! When we stop thinking of life in those terms, good or bad, we achieve a balance that enables us to be a powerful force in the world around us. So, the next time someone asks, how are you? You can respond, full, my friend, full.