Living Every Day

December 29, 2007
Emily, from Thornton Wilder’s Our Town, asks the following question: “Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it? —every, every minute?” I wish to answer Emily’s question. She realizes the tragic waste of life; she discovers that she and everyone in her community among the symbolic dead had not really lived their lives fully and completely.
Because I am the main character of my life, I have learned to step outside of myself and watch as I live every day.

Emily’s epiphany awakens me to wonder how many opportunities I have missed in my life. Thornton Wilder put his hands on my shoulders and shook me, “Wake up, Melanie! Wake up and smell the coffee!” Wilder tells me that the little things are, were, and will be left unnoticed. The only way to garner the most of life, something of such magnitude, something of such utter importance in my surrounding environment, is to start small and hold the building blocks that form life. Awareness of the intertwined universe is vital: I admire the variegated autumn leaves pirouetting in the wind and the intricate process of twirls used to tie shoelaces. Heliotrope’s aroma fills my nose; the rapid clicking of the computer keys under my fingers echoes in my ears as I pour out an account of what I have learned from this play.

The life I am living now is probably the same as it would have been in the early twentieth century. Nothing much has changed between then and now, except, of course, technological advances. The mundane lives we teenagers live probably do not change very much generation after generation. We, the residents of planet Earth, are just going with the flow. We do what is expected of us. I refuse to allow my life to be scripted by convention. The social timeline is our guide to life: attend a university, participate in the workforce, marry, and raise children. After that, the guidebook comes to an end, and we aimlessly wait for the finality of our lives.

At the top of my lungs, I scream, “Carpe diem!” Take a chance. Seize the opportunity. Try something different. Take a leap outside of the box. I am the rebelling minority. I do not want to be identified with the common: everyone, always, and everywhere. Life is all I have; it is my sole possession. I am the sum total of all I have ever done and learned. I am through with imagining a distant dreamland of pure, unadulterated fantasy. I want to experience life as though it were an extravagantly wrapped present waiting for me to open. While discarding the mundane lifestyle of what is expected and accepted, my eyes are opened wide, wide enough to see the whole world, ready to take advantage of the opportunities around me. I am living in my past, present, and future; I will be sure to seize the day.

I am the exception to Emily’s answer to her own question: “Oh, earth, you’re too wonderful for anybody to realize you.”

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