It was an early morning and I was snaking my way through a crowd of people. As I passed an older gentleman, I heard him say, "Another day in paradise."
His comment was directed to no one in particular. Just a random remark tossed out to any who care to listen. The scowl on his face and the bitter tone in his voice betrayed any possibility that his words were genuine.
Another day in paradise.
It was sarcastic.
It was an accusation.
It was a defense mechanism.
It was an admission of defeat.
His day, his lot in life. It was anything but paradise.
Why is it when people make such proclamations they are rarely serious?
Have they given up on their dreams? Are they so worn down by circumstances that they are not able to see a way out? Have they fallen victim to the consequences of their own choices? Did they forget there is more to life than going to work and paying bills?
Please do not misunderstand me. I am not an eternal and incurable optimist. I realize that life is not always sunshine and roses. I am intimately aware that being human is not an easy feat. I know that events beyond our control have a nasty habit of kicking us in the teeth.
Does this realistic understanding of existence make me a pessimist? I hope not. Because I also know that life is more than our burdens. I believe that we are more than our mistakes and failures. I value improvement over perfection. I hope in something to hope for. We go through Hell and life goes on.
From that perspective and with all sincerity, I will declare myself to be in paradise. Right here. Right now.
I live in one of the most beautiful regions of the nation. I have a good job and brilliant kids. I have a roof over my head and food in my fridge. I have hobbies to occupy my free time and talents I use to help others. I have friends who are immensely valuable to me. I have parents who are encouraging and supportive, and an older brother who has always been my bodyguard and my biggest cheerleader.
How could I not call this paradise?
Even if the worst happens, even if tragedy strikes, even if my greatest fears come to fruition, even on the most terrible horrible no good very bad days. This is still another day in paradise.
Because I'm alive.
I think we forget about it too easily. We forget this breath that fills our lungs is a gift of life. We forget how our hearts beat with purpose. We forget about little joys and simple pleasures that make us happy. We forget the grace we've been given.
Instead we show up, do our thing, and return home only to whine, complain, and mindlessly repeat the routine again tomorrow.
Please do not be like that grubmling stranger. Do something to remind yourself how much life beats inside your chest.
Eat spicy food. Listen to feel-good music. Take the long way home. Call your folks and tell them you love them. Be thankful.
Then go for a walk. Wherever that path leads: on a crowded sidewalk beneath giants of steel and concrete, down a dirt trail on a forested hillside, along a sandy strech of beach, or through a cow-pie littered pasture. Let each step remind you that you are a living breathing being with hope, worth, and purpose.
You are here. You are alive. Welcome to paradise.