Higher, Lower, Dirtier, Happier.

As most of you surmised, and some expressed, last weekend was indeed an emotional roller-coaster for myself. Admittedly, it was more turbulent than I’ve had in recent memory, and maybe that explains the thorough levelling of my emotional makeup, but much of the last eight years has been coaster-esque. And I expect you could say the same thing about your life, that in one way or another, for reasons dramatic or pedestrian, you’ve had your share of ups-and-downs – for what is life if not a series of peaks and valleys? I concede my ride has been unique, that few are privy to the specific joys and tribulations of brain damage, and perhaps my ears have popped more frequently than others, but I propose that the crazier the ride, the more there is to be had with this life.

At bottom, we don’t have a choice anyway. We will experience bothjoys and pains, wounding and healing, rough starts and happy endings, and vice versa. Some would call it diabolically pessimistic to think that bad times will come no matter what, and perhaps it is. By that same token, however, it would be considered insanely optimistic to say good times will come no matter what as well. But the point is not to pick a side and defend it, the point is that the two are a package deal and sinking to your neck in the mud only reminds you why you love flying.

Suppose you resolve to live in the moment more, what if that moment is consumed in loss? You may decide to seize the day and all it has to offer, but what if that day has seen everything you held dear seized from you? You might desperately want to live life to the fullest, but what you want even more desperately is to run from fully half of what life is. And the thing is, we need the mud in life – not just to keep things in perspective or as a point of contrast to the things we enjoy, but so we can experience the full gamut of human emotions and be fully alive as a result. The “fullest life” is not necessarily the “good life” we imagine it to be, and in fact, the two may be mutually exclusive.

I’m not suggesting you seek out the most deplorable circumstances you can, in the hopes of adding to your emotional quiver, because at best this will only be mildly fruitful. To disingenuously join in the misfortunes of others is conscience-appeasing at best, deceitful at worst. You don’t need to go searching for a painful struggle or hopeless situation. It’s coming whether you look for it or not, whether you’re prepared for it or not, whether you “deserve” it or not.

And when it does, don’t panic. It’s just life happening.

Take it in.

Get a feel for it.

Study it.

Get dirty.

Let the mud dry, it’s okay.

Take the time to learn about yourself, learn about others, learn about life.

And as you do, life will become fuller, and you will become happier.


About jaybrandsma

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3 Responses to Higher, Lower, Dirtier, Happier.

  1. Julia says:

    As I expected from you, when you experience struggle, you come out with wisdom.

  2. Liv says:

    A timely word into the pain and pressure in my life right now! Thanks for the encouragement!

  3. Jane says:

    Are you sure you’re not 82 instead of 32, Jay?

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