If you don't feel like reading this, here's the gist: Be Happy!
Forgive me for the picture I'm about to paint, but I'm doing it in the hope that you'll learn something from it. I certainly did.
Walking in to this house I couldn't help but notice a distinctive smell. I can only describe the smell as depressing... And pungent. It was the smell of sick people. It was a smell that lingered in my nostrils long after I left the house and long after I sniffed everything I could just trying to replace the smell.
Here's what I saw when I walked into this house: The front door opened into a big room that housed a dining room table, two couches, a few chairs, and a pathetic excuse for a 17-inch television that was struggling to air a soap opera.
The care-taker happily introduced me to a woman in the way back of the room who was sound asleep in her wheelchair, her knees covered by a cliche' lace afghan. Then, I met a woman who seemed a bit too well to be there, although she didn't have 100% of her wits about her. I liked her immediately for two reasons: she still had a smile to flash, and she was playing poker on some hand-held electronic thingy. Then I met "Claire", an Asian woman with one tooth who was in a wheelchair and forgive me, but she was folded into herself. In the time I was there, she attempted to communicate by moaning and being answered by the care-taker with, "That's okay Claire, honey. That's okay, Claire." The person I was visiting was asleep on the couch. She woke up easily and was happy to see me, but didn't know who I was. Someday I'll tell you about her... I just want to get permission first.
So, here I was sitting in this house for about 40 minutes, watching sickly, old people watching a sickly television that they didn't even know was on. It made me feel a lot of things. And I feel like I have so much more to say about what was going on in my head. But, I'm just going to say this:
Live your life the happiest way you know how. And if you don't know how, figure it the fuck out. We get one go around, and we hear it all the time, but we don't really ever HEAR it. I believe it is our responsibility to be happy in this life. It's our responsibility to take care of ourselves. We should do good things for people. We should exercise and eat right because we only get one body. We should eat fried chicken and pie sometimes because we only have so many nights out. We should tell the people we love that we love them all the time. I mean, ALL THE TIME! We should laugh our asses off. We should have parties and tell secrets and ask for things we want. We should make new friends and take advice. We should ask for help when we need it and take our parents to dinner. We should love our spouses, families and pets more than we thought possible. We should fight to be happy. And here's why:
One day we might end up sitting in a wheelchair in a stranger's house. Really let that sink in. It took me about 40 minutes. But, by the time I left there I made a new commitment to appreciating this beautiful life even more than I already do.
One last thing: Maybe if we live REALLY HAPPY lives, we won't ever be sick enough to end up in a place like that. Both of my beaufiful grandmas passed away gracefully at home, surrounded by people who loved them. Yes, they were sick at the end, but only very briefly. I think it's possible that there is a link between living well and dying well. Too morbid? Sorry. Think about puppies and flowers. Now go be happy, damn it!