Rich started writing for the Honolulu Star-Bulletin as music critic for the symphony and opera seasons. Originally from Granite City, IL, he graduated from Simpson College with a degree in music education. In 1984 he received his MA in Music ...
Rich started writing for the Honolulu Star-Bulletin as music critic for the symphony and opera seasons. Originally from Granite City, IL, he graduated from Simpson College with a degree in music education. In 1984 he received his MA in Music Education from Truman State. Now retired, Rich enjoyed reading, writing music and short essays. He is the director of Kirksville Community Chorus.
MCKNOTES ON LIFE
Life is a gift we are given. That doesn’t mean it is without pitfalls as we navigate the course of our own day to day activities. We all face health issues, sadness, loss and worlds of things we simply don’t understand. No one is immune from the difficulties of life, and consequently, we all make mistakes. In that process, we sometimes hurt other people. I choose to believe that we never mean to hurt others. We just make wrong choices sometimes.
One thing I’ve learned is that we are responsible for our own lives. Naturally, there’s help along the way, sometimes from unlikely sources, but usually from those who love us. There’s nothing wrong with leaning on that help from time to time. It is, however, important to avoid total dependence upon outside help since we are ultimately in charge of our own decisions. There’s no doubt that we are from time to time abused by others, and that gives us the opportunity to blame some failures on those who have wronged us. But that’s counterproductive in my view.
We simply have to make the most of what we have, and sometimes that seems insurmountable. Occasionally we come across people who have just “thrown in the towel.” They give up trying to right their wrongs and no longer work at making the most out of the life they’ve been given.
While this is difficult to understand, we have to be aware that some forces are beyond our ability to manage. We continue to learn that drug addiction is one of those forces over which we simply have no power. Sure, there are rehabilitation programs that help some people, and that affliction can be overcome, but sadly, that seems to be the exception.
Some illnesses or diseases can really wreak havoc in an individual’s life. It’s easy to think that those affected should just make the best of what life they have left. That’s really pretty unfair, though. Certainly some ailments leave a person with no defenses at all.
Sadly, mental illness is one such issue. Often we just can’t understand what mental illness does to people. Clinical depression can be a horrible opponent. Sometimes there is help for such things, but there is also a stigma attached to mental health issues that leaves a victim feeling inadequate and unable to meet the challenges along their path. Culturally, we need to get over the thought that somehow people are responsible for their own mental breakdowns. Even if we cannot at all understand it, we must be compassionate and know that no one would willingly make such a choice, and that the battle can go beyond our abilities to ward off such things.
I guess I’ve gone full circle. Yes, life is still a gift for which we are responsible. Occasionally there are just too many potholes along the road and while we can miss many of them, we can just as easily fall prey to the damage such obstacles inflict.
Maybe the two most important things in life are to care for others and to do our best not to be someone else’s obstacle. I think we should never judge that which we do not understand. Religion can offer great solace sometimes, but too often, people wear the badge of religion as a free pass to act as self-appointed judges. Clearly, the Bible tells us, “Judge not, lest ye be judged.”