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Just enjoy the little things: don’t let ‘life’ get in the way of experiences

Looking forward to a game of golf. Photo by Jonathan D. Lopez
Looking forward to a game of golf.  Photo by Jonathan D. Lopez
Looking forward to a game of golf. Photo by Jonathan D. Lopez

By Max De Leeuw – Collegiate Staff

I’m sure students can relate when I say that I’m afraid of the future. I welcome it and what it may bring as an exciting challenge, but I’d be lying if I said that it didn’t scare me.

This fall, I’m planning on transferring to Grand Valley State University for my Junior year but I don’t know exactly what classes to take or what career to pursue.

Meanwhile, I’m bogged down with school, homework, and a part-time job. Needless to say, my stress level can be pretty high at times.

In life, it’s easy to get bogged down with our responsibilities. We worry and work in search for fulfillment: a job, a spouse, happiness. Don’t get me wrong, without hard work, we wouldn’t advance as people. Perhaps part of that fulfillment can be found when we slow down and look at what is around us. Life would seem a lot more manageable and enjoyable if we took time to appreciate the little things.

In nature we are offered a lot to be thankful for. Warmer weather is here, hopefully to stay. The next time it’s sunny, step outside for a second. Feel the sun and the slight breeze. Just stand there for a few minutes and try to forget the assignment due tomorrow. Try to forget about the double shift that’s waiting come Saturday.

Stand there and feel the sun mix with the breeze. Listen to the birds. We too often take these things for granted. You don’t really have to do anything. Just enjoy it, and take a few minutes to relax.

Let’s not forget about our family and friends. We’re often too busy trying to organize our crazy lives that we fail to see the value of a conversation with a sibling, parent, or close friend. We’re not guaranteed any specific amount of time with these people. Enjoy each others’ company while you still have it.

My dad and I really enjoy golfing together. We go to a local, inexpensive golf course and just spend time together in the sun. It doesn’t matter how many times we’ve gone. We always still tell each other how beautiful the course is. In a small plot of land, bordering one of the busiest streets in town, we feel like we’re in our own little world. We forget about our stresses. The only thing that bothers us is that we hit the ball five feet when the flagstick is 50 yards away. We talk and soak it all in.

We get enveloped in green, lost in the course, happy despite the frustration that yet another one of our golf balls has become actually lost in the course.

The list goes on and on. Relax with a good book or go to the movies with friends. Enjoy a meal whether it took time, dedication, and culinary prowess or it just came out of the microwave. Ramen noodles anyone? We don’t usually remember what we’re thankful for until it’s gone. It’s a good idea, from time to time, to remind ourselves of what really matters and things that are simply enjoyable.

That’s not to say that life’s easy, because it’s not. What’s so frustrating for me in life is that a lot of things are out of my control. I want to get a good job. I want to end up getting married and I don’t want to miss my chance at finding the right girl. The world is huge and I’m supposed to find one girl? No pressure.

Then there’s all the issues that we have going on in the world. I can’t help feed everyone that goes hungry. I can’t stop the needless, thoughtless killings by ISIS members. I can’t stop AIDS. I can’t help everyone, especially when I’m struggling myself. I’m just a sophomore in college born and raised in Grand Rapids.

There are men and women, however, who are born to shape the world for the better, to see the injustices and rally people to make things right. After all, men and women exist right here and now who are taking aim on scales both small and large, at all of these issues. If I’m not a leader, then I can at least follow and contribute to the solution.

I think our lives were meant to be the most influential and meaningful in our own, small, circles. We should help when and where we can. We should not turn a blind eye to the suffering of other people both within and outside of our own national borders. For the short time we’re here on Earth, we should invest in the lives of those close to us.

I’m not going to make a huge chunk of cash next year and I’ll probably end up owing a lot due to student loans. I will probably only have made one or two small steps in the direction of where I hope to be, and that’s ok. Wherever I end up, whatever I end up doing, whoever I end up influencing, I can’t let the daunting future keep me from living in the here and now. I will pause and appreciate what I have. A delicious meal is only a room or a phone call away. I can read and write. I can watch movies and listen to music. I can run and play sports. I can laugh. I can live. I can not let “life” get in the way of experiencing it the way it was meant to be experienced: one moment at a time.