Me? I’m not that certain nor that congratulatory.
Life is excruciating, and it is worth every painful second to keep living and fighting.
To be human is to be that little boy with autism whose soul is a beautiful, glittering thing that few people care to see. To be human is to be that 13-year-old girl who goes to bed in tears every night because she feels like nobody would miss her if she was gone. To be human is to be that 19-year-old boy who thinks he’s disappointed everybody in his life, including himself. To be human is to be that middle-aged, preteen, twenty something, elderly man or woman who feels unlovable, undesirable, misunderstood, overweight, un-fixable, ugly, or ashamed.
To be human is to struggle in almost every single way, but, most importantly, it’s to keep fighting, to rise above the things that hurt you, to realize that sometimes, that gigantic purpose we stress about simply comes down to one thing: living on.
Doing that, living on always requires us to push through extreme difficulties. Michelangelo, in his misery, painted the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. I am not in the right place. I am not a painter, he often lamented, a refrain echoed by many of us today.
I am a girl, not a fighter.
I am a man, not a hero.
I am disabled, not powerful.
I am a victim, not a survivor.
“I myself am also trying to do as well as I can, but I will not conceal from you that I hardly dare count on always being in good health. And if my disease returns, you would forgive me. I still love art and life very much…”
Van Gogh, whose popularity and renown only peaked after his death, is not remembered for dying, but for what he did when he lived. How he loved.
It’s what we do while we are living that matters, and to choose to live for as long as we can is to give extension to the ripples we create, the number of people who wake up each day, look at the stars, and see art there simply because we saw art there. Life is important, not just because it is so fleeting, but because one life is connected to billions of lives. Take one away, and you take away something that can never be replaced. Cut yours short, and you cut peace away from countless individuals who desperately needed to see your fight to sustain their own.
Today, we treat that life like a commodity we have too much of and a burden we don’t want to carry. We live in a world that touts population control, because one more life is less important than satisfaction and stability for the rest of us. We live in a country that celebrates snapping, uprooting, and weeding out children as a means for life to be easy and free of consequences for us all-knowing adults who clamor for the freedom to do whatever we’d like with our bodies. We live in a society that has deluded itself into thinking that if a child will be born with disabilities, the best thing to do for that child is to snuff out his or her opportunity to live, as if a sick or disabled life is a worthless one. We live in a society that condemns mothers of five or more children for being selfish instead of for gifting a future to five or more individuals who may one day extend a needed hand to someone hurting, change national or international policy, or march down their city streets demanding positive change for the sake of their generation. We tell young women with the potential to inspire others to fight that they are courageous for ending that fight before it has begun.
Do we not see the tragedy we are creating? The van Goghs and Michelangelos, the Martin Luther King Jr.s and Abraham Lincolns and Steve Jobses, the Rosa Parkses, Eleanor Roosevelts, Helen Kellers, and Mother Thereseas we are eliminating from this world because we feel life is too hard and not worth it for them? We are killing our heroes one by one on the premise that death is dignity.
We need them, we need Brittany, and we need you. Don’t quit. Choose to live.