I will call him ‘Sam.’ He is an elderly man I help take care of where I work. One day he was walking back from lunch and he asked me if I ever seen a picture of his horse. I tell him no, so he invites me to his room to take a look at it. There above his bed is a large hand painted picture of him in a suit sitting on a beautiful well groomed black stallion. Sam looked happy and well distinguished. I must say he was quite handsome in his younger days. He goes on to explain to me how he raised horses and for many years would show them in various competitions. It was one of the things that brought him joy, it still does today. With a smile on his face and a sparkle in his eyes he went on to tell me about his life as an executive assistant administrator and avid horse rider. He was never married and didn’t have any children. Most importantly he had no regrets. He didn’t need anyone to complete him and he has accomplished most of his goals. With contentment written all over his face he sits down in a chair by his bay window and says, “I did things I enjoyed doing. I never felt the need to conform to whatever everyone else was doing.” Marriage was a big deal back then, but Sam always felt satisfied and fulfilled with who he was and what he did. This man has family and good friends that have brought him happiness throughout the years. Nephews, nieces, and friends from times of old come to visit him often. Everyday he walks around with a smile on his face as he greets each passerby.
The other day I had to run out to Terra, my school, and pick up some paper work. When I was walking into the office I seen a familiar face, I will call him ‘Dave.’ He waves and asks, “how are you doing kid?” Real good, I say. He is somewhat older than me, I’m not sure if he is old enough to call me kid, but it works for me. No complaints on my end. Seeing him sent a wave of memories from when I first met him. It was in the gym at the college. My impression was that I felt sorry for him. Dave is paralyzed from the waist down and uses a wheelchair. I thought to myself how is he going to workout? After taking off his jacket and seeing is upper-body strength I knew that he must work his arms out. He did just that. The whole time with a smile. Afterwards I seen that he was working in one of the offices at the college. He was helping a student do something on the computer. Another student sat a few seats down and after he was done with the first student he wheeled himself to assist the second one. I thought that was wonderful. Wow! He can help others. Many times through the last year I would see him laughing and conversing with students and teachers, paper work in his hands wheeling himself into one classroom after another. A look of genuine happiness smothered all over his face. He looked fulfilled despite his disabilities. What a role model he would be for anyone that is in a wheelchair. Good for him!
Meditating on these two men I have learned a lot. Sam lived a fulfilled and happy life without the need to be with someone. Dave lives a fulfilled life being disabled. There are people who have everything and are not as happy as these two men. They give me hope. They show me that just because you are not hooked up with someone or if there is something wrong with you doesn’t mean your life is doomed. I’m sure there was pressure on Sam to marry, and I’m sure Dave had to overcome obstacles to get where he is today. Obviously, that hasn’t stopped either one. Happiness is what I want out of life. Courage to take chances doesn’t come easy for me, but with these two examples I’m hoping that I muster up some. They are proof that just because you are not the norm nor do you live like the norm doesn’t mean you cannot have a fulfilled, happy, and long life. I hope to achieve their type of happiness no matter what the outcome is for me. I want to wear the smile that they do. At the end of my life I want it to be filled with laughter and togetherness.