It's Good to be Alive!
The world in which we live is a theatre of love, joy and peace. It is a graced world. It is a beautiful world. That is often not self-evident. As is often said, "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder." This means that if we have love and joy and peace and beauty within us, we shall behold our world as a place of wonder and noble expectation, a place where we experience, sometimes to our pleasant surprise, that it is good to be alive.
A few years ago, I happened to be travelling by car with a couple of friends through Harlem, New York. As we drove along 125th St., I became enthralled with the beauty of the scenery and the human landscape that presented themselves to view. With a sense of wonder, I uttered a couple of words. Someone asked, "What did you say?" I responded, "Enchanting Harlem!"
When I went home, inspired by my experience, I wrote a poem, entitled, 'Enchanting Harlem' which was published in 'EVERBODY' Magazine.
Life is for living. Often we fail to experience the joy of living because of the obstacles that we ourselves place in our paths. The joy of living is there for all of us to experience. We merely have to reach out and capture it.
Several years ago, when I studied in Rome, Italy, one day I heard my fellow students speaking about a traffic officer in the city who had been transferred. Because of a petition made by the citizens he was immediately re-instated. He would operate at a particularly busy location during the rush hour. I decided to interrupt my studies and to go to behold that scene for myself. What I saw was remarkable. The traffic officer was a rather corpulent man. He had raised his apparently simple task to that of a profession. He was stationed at a very busy area. He kept directing traffic without a hitch and at the same time returning the greeting of all who drove by. Besides, all the while he kept singing. There was never any interruption to what he was doing. Indeed, it was a spectacle of joy!
To understand the value of such a man, you need to bear in mind that in a big city as Rome, at the end of the day, people come from a hard day's work. They are fatigued and desire ardently a little relaxation, a little assurance that all will be well. Some people are enduring stress, and want a little comforting. And just in their path stands a brother bubbling with life and full of the joy of living.
Some years ago, I happened to be having lunch at the home of my cousin, Glovello Toussaint, and his wife, Zetma, in Maryland, USA. Suddenly, Glovello called me, "Come and see that!" Little did he know how much I valued that call. What I saw was indeed most memorable.
It was the Women's Marathon Race during the Olympic Games. The race was just about over, but for that Swiss American lady who was in great pain but would not give up. From the time she entered the stadium, it was evident that she was in trouble. She could barely move forward but, in spite of the pleading by the medical doctors, she refused to give up. On she went, sometimes taking side steps rather than forward steps. Everyone was just in amazement. Finally, she made it and the attendants were there to catch her body, as, completely exhausted, she collapsed at the finish line. What a splendid display of the triumph of the human spirit!
Psychologists tell us that there is a lot of untapped energy in human beings. They do not know that. They have tremendous interior resources at their disposal. Very few people operate at near maximum capacity. And, in fact, most people use only a small fraction of the potential which is in their being. Great people are needed to spur people on to creatively bring out the best in them, which is necessary to experience the joy of living.
Many years ago, Roy Campanella, a Negro, was doing well in baseball when he had a near fatal car accident. He survived, but he was close to being a human wreck. Medical doctors worked hard on him. He was blessed with a young man, Joe, who was appointed to attend to him, give him therapy and provide for his needs, and, above all, give him an experience of brotherly love.
Roy was consigned to a wheelchair. Joe had to do everything for him. He could not use his limbs. Even using his hands to feed himself was impossible. Joe had to teach him how to do it with the help of contraptions. To crown his woes, Roy lost his wife, who divorced him!
Finally, after a long period of treatment, it was decided to have a Baseball Benefit Match for Roy Campanella. The great day came. Roy entered the stadium in his wheelchair. He was overwhelmed by the mammoth crowd before him. He uttered just a few words. Then he burst into tears. But his message resounded throughout the stadium: "It's good to be alive!"