Who Are You to Criticize Someone Else’s Happiness?

Every time tragedy strikes, celebrities and school choirs come together to sing “What the World Needs Now Is Love” in an effort to spread peace. When faced with immense sadness, we do everything in our power to emphasize the good and eliminate the bad. But the moment anyone expresses true happiness, it’s as if every Negative Nancy on the planet unites behind one giant megaphone to tout their disdain—those feelings of euphoria are clearly unfounded and they’re here to tell you why.

Last week, for instance, comedian Patton Oswalt and actress Meredith Salenger took to social media to confirm their engagement. While such announcements usually elicit an outpouring of “likes” and emoji-laced exclamations, Internet enthusiasts took the opportunity to hunker down behind their screens and anonymously expound their unsolicited opinions. You see, Mr. Oswalt’s wife, Michelle McNamara, died unexpectedly in April 2016 and, because he’s been so honest and forthcoming about his ensuing grief, these commenters clearly deserve to voice their concerns before these two consenting adults proceed with their impending marriage.

For some reason, the Average Joe seems to think they’re entitled to rain on someone else’s parade just because the people in question happen to be celebrities. (Call me crazy, but living life in the limelight shouldn’t mean you must silently endure such abuse.) In this case, Mr. Oswalt’s critics chastised him for “moving on too quickly” after his wife’s death. Yet I can’t help but wonder—what constitutes “too soon” and who are these naysayers to judge?

There’s no doubt that Mr. Oswalt was crushed by the loss of his wife. His gut-wrenching Facebook posts and subsequent interviews are testament to his undying love for Ms. McNamara. But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t deserve this new love he’s found. Loving once doesn’t mean you’re not allowed to love again, timing be damned. His life was torn to shreds with no warning, so why would this man—this man who knows how precious every minute can be—wait for the rest of his life to begin just because complete strangers might not approve?

In this situation, the only other party besides Mr. Oswalt and Ms. Salenger who has any real right to their opinion would be Mr. Oswalt’s 8-year-old daughter, Alice. Judging by Ms. Salenger’s recent Instagram posts, however, she’s definitely onboard. Who are we to deny this young girl another person who loves her? More love doesn’t dilute the love that already exists. Instead, that love grows and expands until it consumes all those touched by its warmth and its light.

If you’re that interested in judging others, purchase a gavel—that way you can whack yourself across the knuckles every time you consider adding your two cents. If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. No matter how transparent someone might seem online, you’ll likely never know the full story.

To put it simply, love and let love. After all, it’s the only thing that there’s just too little of.

Images courtesy of Meredith Salenger’s Instagram

Advertisements

Where “YOLO” Meets “IRL”

Disclaimer: Don’t let the title throw you off. I hate those terms, too.

Certain acronyms and abbreviations have really caught on in this age of the Internet. LOL, IMO, BRB—most of today’s shorthand lingo comes from the desire to type common, mildly lengthy phrases using less time and space. Yet, while most acronyms have quickly become part of the online lexicon, many will agree that YOLO (You Only Live Once) has reached its expiration date. Though the term represents an overt acknowledgement of humankind’s impending mortality, frequent usage has transformed the otherwise meaningful concept into an annoying cliché.

yolo_large

Countless advocates take to the Internet to state the obvious, but one has to wonder if they fully understand what they’re saying, for it’s not simply the fact that we only live once, but what we do with that one life that truly generates meaning. Many have yet to comprehend that posting YOLO all over Twitter or Tumblr does not constitute living, for life will not wait until you’re done posting that status or reblogging pictures of cats. When you are young, you feel invincible, as if time will never touch you. You believe you have so many years left to live life to the fullest until, suddenly, the days have faded into weeks, and the weeks into months, and years later you are standing with your back to the future, gazing at the past and wondering where all the time went because, in most instances, we spend too much time standing still.

Time marches forward (even if we don’t). We get extra sleep to gather energy for the things we want to do. We study harder so we can get the job we seek. We work twice as hard to earn more money for the goods necessary to survive. But, as our obligations consume every ounce of effort we exert, time slips further out of reach and we are left with mere slivers to spend with those we love. Even though classmates and co-workers may surround us all day long, we spend most of our waking hours in relative solitude. Our pets remain home alone as they await our return, and our friends and family toil away at their own responsibilities, allowing us to come together for only one mere fraction of the day.

Honestly, it’s paralyzing to consider how much time we waste working toward an imaginary future that may never materialize. Once you begin to understand how many moments we subconsciously let slip by, you can’t hope but pause to catch your breath. Much of life remains entirely out of our hands, yet we proceed with the assumption that there will always be another tomorrow, causing us to neglect today’s potential. We put so much energy into jobs that we dread in our pursuit of financial security, and we tackle tasks deemed mandatory by society’s standards, not realizing that what might be right in front of us one week could be gone the next, for just as we believe we’ll always have more time, we believe those we love will always be there, too. We must recognize that distance, illness, and death are not just possibilities, but eventualities, and that to truly embrace this one life we’ve been given, we must love and live in the moment, not in the future.

What May Be Gone Tomorrow

Today will be the only (insert date here) of your lifetime — in the history of the world, even. Each day is unique, each minute, each second. They pass with the blink of an eye, yet there will never be another moment exactly like this.

Some fill each moment with excitement, while others become enveloped in despair.  Some moments are filled with tears, though others are filled with laughter.  Some moments are accompanied by music; others are awash with silence.  Yet my biggest fear is a moment filled with nothing.  Moments filled with empty wishes for the day to be over or the storm to pass leave us longing for the eventual despite the fact that we can only be sure about the here and now.  So much can happen between this very minute and that moment you’re longer for, so much that you can never be quite sure it will arrive.

What we must do is fill each and every moment with something – a laugh, a scream, a tear, a hug, a kiss.  But most importantly, we must fill each moment with a piece of ourselves.  Whether we are here tomorrow or gone for eternity, the seeds we sow now are what will live on long after we’re gone.  We may not be able to fill every moment with something distinct, but we can constantly work toward something worthwhile.

All we can hope and aspire to during our brief time on this earth is to leave something or someone (even just one person) better or happier than they otherwise would have been without our presence.  Even the simplest of smiles or the kindest of words can take deep roots, for such gestures may brighten someone’s day and instigate a domino effect of positivity.