I can remember an old high school buddy’s senior yearbook quote giving some very encouraging advice. It said something along the lines of life not being easy; you’ll stumble, make mistakes, and it will rain, but there will also be good times, so when those things happen, you might as well accept them, grow from them and slide into first base screaming, ‘Wow, what a ride.’ You have to find happiness despite the rain.
When hip-hop began to go mainstream with songs like Sugar Hill Gang’s first classic, it was all about fun and seizing life, though the opening lyrics are simple, infectious and reflective of what fun, simple things can be. Since then, hundreds of other hip-hop songs encourage living life to the fullest and taking advantage of your younger years before time slips away.
Since high school, that classmate has died, along with a few others who graduated with me. Their young lives ended before they had the chance to really live. And much of hip-hop makes me realize that fun should be a priority for us all.
Sure, we have serious responsibilities that are inescapable – academics, jobs, some have children. But it’s proven that when you take a break from your routines and have fun, endorphins are released, and you become happier. A part of finding happiness is taking risks.
Monday morning, I flew to Michigan to spend a few days at Crystal Mountain for a travel writing assignment. Here, me and a group of other journalists had a press tour of everything northern Michigan has to offer.
I was a little nervous at first; I’m not used to nor do I have proper attire for below-freezing temperatures. I have never been able to manage in even the lightest snow, and the closest I’ve ever gotten to skiing is slipping down an icy sidewalk on my way to class during sophomore year.
But I figured, it might be a while before I had an opportunity like this again. Why not? Why not try something new? I might discover that I actually like it. And I did. I made it to the intermediate slopes on my first try. I rode a snowmobile through the woods of northern Michigan. And I did it all with a smile, knowing that it was a stretch for me.
And I encourage you to try new things, too. Never be afraid to exit your comfort zone, even if it means getting over a fear or maybe missing classes for a few days (but not too often and only for good reason, of course).
We are too young to let our everyday responsibilities overshadow our youth. These are the best years of our lives; we have a huge amount of freedom, an air of invincibility and countless chances to discover ourselves and readjust our goals accordingly.
Live now, like Nas says. “There’s no promise of a second time around… we’ll just live now, there’s no reason why shouldn’t, everything is up to you, all you gotta do is just live.”
Take that advice. And when it seems a gray cloud is hovering over you, find happiness. Take a chance. Dance joyfully in the rain.