Very few people in my life are aware of this little known fact, but way back in junior high/high school (can’t remember exactly when) I came very close to committing suicide. I’m almost 40 years old now, but even thinking about it still gives me the shivers, knowing all the great things I would have just thrown away.
My original title for this post was going to be “Life Sucks and then You Die”. I know, depressing. But the truth is, we’re all going to experience feelings of sadness, failure, and depression, and we have that right to. Maybe not as much as some people out there, people like my Dad’s cousin who recently died of cancer, or an acquaintance of mine who’s daughter has been fighting cancer. And no, this post is not about cancer, nor is it really about any of the negative topics discussed so far. My point, is that we all have feelings of frustration and failure now and then, but to quote a favorite line from the movie Batman Begins, “And why do we fall…? So we can learn to pick ourselves back up.”
Overall, I’d say I’m a pretty positive person. I’ve come a very long way since that day in my youth, and these days, you won’t generally find me getting down too often. But there have been times when the overwhelm of life’s failures have taken their toll on me. Even the best of men have breaking points. But with experience, I’ve learned that it’s not the fall that typically destroys us, it’s what we choose to do afterwards. See, I probably don’t need to tell you that life is full of challenges. They are unavoidable and often times out of our control, and the longer you live, the more challenges you get to check off the list.
“And what does any of this have to do with the title of this post?” you ask? “Do I Matter?” At first glance you might have wondered if I was asking this question about me personally, wallowing in my own self pity or selfishness, but you’d be wrong. This is about each of us, a question we should be asking ourselves regularly. See, to me, the people that matter aren’t the ones who have lots of friends, fans or followers. They’re not athletes, musicians or movie stars. The people who matter are the ones who continue to rack up their checklist of challenges. They are the ones who take everything that life throws at them–the good and the bad–and they get back up and keep going.
I’ve learned to look at challenges the same way I look at weight lifting. If we want to build muscle and get stronger, we can’t keep lifting the same amount of weight. So it is with life. If we’re to learn and grow, we need to be challenged. Now you could argue that some challenges are too much for anyone, and you might be right. However, history has given us countless examples of men and women who’ve faced insurmountable odds and come out victorious in the end.
So as you face the challenges of your own life, my hope is that you will always pick yourself back up and keep moving forward. Thomas Edison is said to have failed over 1000 times in his attempt to make a working light bulb, and yet, where would the world be if he’d quit before succeeding?