As I make my way through downtown Lawrence, Kan., I notice a man making noise on two-empty coffee cans. The noise is an orchestrated effort to sound like the song “Don’t Worry, Be Happy.” As I try to recollect the popular lyrics, while enjoying this unusual rendition, I stop and start to walk towards the man. I compliment him on his creativity to make such a beautiful harmony out of coffee cans. He pauses for a moment and looks at me and says, “I was given two-empty coffee cans by a stranger. Now, I’m making music with them. Life is beautiful, but often people are blinded by all the ugliness. I could have been bitter about a stranger giving me these two coffee cans, instead I made music. That’s the beauty of life: beauty comes in many different forms. You just have to recognize it.”
I left inspired and wanted to adopt this idea that life is beautiful, no matter the circumstance. Unfortunately, I feel like people are making life a list full of problems than something beautiful. We don’t have to search long to find negativity. Log onto Facebook or your Twitter account and see the things people are talking about. I would venture to guess that half of what they’re talking about are complaints or problems going on in their life. If I wanted to see the negativity in the world, then I would watch the local news more.
If the biggest complaint you have is stress over your salary job or which should be served with dinner — when 870 million people are suffering from malnourishment and 10.4 million American adults are unemployed — then life isn’t bad.
If a homeless man can find joy from two-empty coffee cans, then who are we to complain about the privileges of having a job and food to eat? I’m not saying that venting is bad, I’m guilty of that, too. I’m suggesting that the positive-to-negative comment ratio be higher than the negative-to-positive comment ratio.
It’s easier to complain about something than to do something about it. I think the problem is that people like to blame others for their problems instead of taking responsibility for their own life. I was infected with this kind of thinking. If I woke up in a bad mood it was the school’s fault for starting at 7:45 a.m. If I did poorly on a test it was because the teacher failed to teach me. If I didn’t perform well in sports it was my parents fault for not buying me the latest-technological gear.
This is a cowardly way of living, by blaming others for your shortcomings; instead, focus on the good things in your life. I wasn’t born to be a spectator of my life, but to be the lead role and it was time for me to start living my life. I will admit, in my opinion, that I think there is more to life than going to school, finding a job, paying bills, starting a family, and growing old — this systematic approach to “living” is outdated and people get sucked into this kind of living and fail to live out their dreams; Now not all people, but most, have things they wish they did before being tied down with all these commitments and responsibilities.
I fell victim to this kind of thinking. I have my degree and now I’m in the transition process from college into corporate America — let me know if any of y’all are hiring, ha ha — and I can’t believe how fast the time has gone. My college career, in retrospect, seems like one big blur (that’s not because of the booze, either), but I regret not doing MORE.
I was so focused on fraternizing, partying, and sporting events that I didn’t soak in everything theUniversity of Kansas had to offer. I’ve been socialized by media on college “culture” on what college is about (going to parties every weekend, drinking all day, going to class only when attendance was necessary, selling your books for booze, one-night stands, etc.) that I didn’t live my entire college career the way I wanted, but the way I thought you were suppose to. I’m not blaming anybody for conditioning me on college expectations, because my actions are in my control, but college isn’t about partying, booze and hook-ups; just like life isn’t just about going to school, getting a corporate job, paying bills, starting a family, and growing old.
Bear in mind, going to school, getting a job, and having a family are important milestones in one’s life, but I feel it’s not what the entirety of life is just about. Life is about taking coffee cans and making melodies – that’s the beauty of life that goes unrecognized. Life is about looking at the ugly and seeing the beauty — not letting anyone tell you what the beauty is.
I often imagine what the world would be like if people had the inability to feel and think negatively. Human emotion is the most powerful thing on earth, in my opinion. All wars, genocides and senseless crimes are provoked by negative emotion. But there is good news, just like we have the power to commit such emotionally-provoked crimes, we have the same power to stop it. Spread positivity in replacement of negativity. We need to keep the world moving forward, not backward. That’s the beauty of life: we have the power to change the world and our lives for the better. I think it’s time we start seeing the beauty in life, instead of the ugliness.
I want to hear from you: what are some life pleasures that you experience daily that many people might not understand or take for granted?