What it Means to be Human

Photo by Jezz Vega on Unsplash

As I wait to pick up my daughter from school, I see kids on the playground doing different activities — some are playing with a large colored parachute, some are playing basketball, and some are playing tag and running around on the desert grass.

I hear their screams of joy and laughter. I watch them as they climb up the steps and twist down the slide onto the ground, the bark absorbing the impact. I see their faces light up as they enjoy life and don’t worry about what’s going on around them. I watch as they interact with each other not caring about what the other looks like or what they are thinking.

They are in the moment, and the moment is something to treasure.

They are all different ages, races, heights, and weights. Full of life and wonder. I see them not knowing what life will bring and not knowing what it means to be human. And while I know childhood can bring as much pain as adulthood, in these moments they are not just living but alive. Because they don’t care about any of it. They just are.

I see them as I once was. What many of us used to be.

I’ve lost some of those feelings along the way and I’m on a quest to get them back. And while I’m much happier now than just a few years ago, I still have a lot of room for growth. I have a lot of room to be and feel alive.

I’ve forgotten more times than I care to admit what it is like to fully live. To be fully alive. Because sometimes I believe life and being human should be a certain way. It should be joyful and happy and something we shouldn’t take for granted. It should be easy and full of excitement.

But that’s not anything close to what being human means. Because being human means we will encounter a wide range of emotions more times than we would ever wish for. It means change is imminent, and there will be pain. There will be heartache and hurt and times when you forget what it was like to be happy. We will take this life, this gift of being human, for granted.

Being human means you are going to screw up and make horrible decisions. You are going to love as much as you hate and wonder which emotion is worse. It means you will lose people and sometimes yourself. You will be afraid and that fear will control you. Being human means you are imperfect, a mix of conflicting thoughts and emotions, and those thoughts will lead you down the wrong path occasionally. Failing is guaranteed — it is just a matter of time. The tough times will seem to linger a bit more than the happy times although the reality may be quite different.

However, it also means you will feel fantastic and full of joy. It means you will win and be amazed and feel on top of the world. You will be curious and experience gratitude for even the smallest of things. Being human means feeling inspired and having hope even when it seems there is none to be found.

It also means you will die.

But being human means we are all connected. We are ALL human. Despite our differences, our flaws, our politics or any other supposed ideology, we are in this life together. And we aren’t alone. There is always someone out in the world right at this moment who is experiencing a lot of the same emotions and a lot of the same problems. It means while each of our experiences may differ, we still remain human.

We are born, we live, and we die.

And in between birth and death, in those times where life gets the best of us and we wonder about what it means, we shouldn’t forget about those times on the playground. Those times of joy and laughter, of pure bliss, and being in that treasured moment. Of being the best part of what it means to be human.

Because it means you are alive. And it means we should be thankful for the gift of being human.


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