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How Not to Live, Featuring Baby Me

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By the words of my parents, the dusty photos adorning the dresser, and the blurry videos of my sister and me, I know that I was an adorable baby. Recently, finding myself unoccupied, I decided to watch some of those blurry baby videos. Afterwards, I sat deep in thought. The images of myself as a chubby, dimpled, genial baby floated through my mind. Memories of family telling me what I’d been like as an infant surfaced. And I realized that I was thankful—thankful that I had changed since I was a baby. Because, cute looks or not, if I had retained my personality since my baby years, I wouldn’t have lived a happy or successful life.

On the subject of life, I suddenly realized that my actions as a young child epitomized exactly how one should not live if they want to be happy and/or successful. So I decided to list some of the things people have told me I’d done as an infant and explain why baby Lake didn’t know how to live:

Quote: “You were a very late bloomer. You wouldn’t walk, even at 15 months. We were very concerned and about to call the doctor. But one day, you started walking. You would do it very slowly and carefully, until you realized that you could crawl faster. So you went back to crawling.”

Baby Lake’s Folly: Life is full of changes. Apartment to mansion, novice to expert, teenager to adult. So then, how could I have not recognized that learning to walk was a natural progression of life that was crucial to the remainder of my existence? Though for me it was more convenient to crawl at the time, walking would ensure a more convenient future. Not all changes are easy to go through, but many create a better future ultimately. Life requires a willingness to change and adapt to new concepts and practices. Baby Lake failed the test.

Quote: “You had a beautiful voice. Whenever your sister sang, you would sing with her, and it was wonderful to hear. The only problem was, you couldn’t say the words, so all we heard from you was an inarticulate tune.”

Baby Lake’s Folly: I take this inability of mine to symbolize something larger that can be found in life. A beautiful voice inhibited by inarticulateness becomes a strong potential held back by a lack of communication, a lack of purpose to one’s talent. One shouldn’t be inarticulate. One shouldn’t be like I was as an infant. One should live their talent to its fullest extent.

Quote: “Whatever your older sister did, you would do the same thing. You loved copying her.”

Baby Lake’s Folly: Need I explain my stupidity in copying my sister’s every move? Perhaps some can make a life out of following those with power, but that life wouldn’t be a happy one. It would restrict one to the point where all of their originality and individuality would be sacrificed just so they could mirror the actions of someone else. The entire existence of a conformer would be made meaningless. However, differing from the actions of Baby Lake and conformers everywhere, following only where personality leads, and choosing your own path, would add so much more happiness to a life.

Now, although the title suggests that this piece is about how Baby Lake is the poster child of the Not Living a Good Life Club, there were some things I did as a baby that I’m quite proud of. One of them especially wins my grudging vote for how to live as happily as possible. Here it is, exactly the way my grandmother loves to say it:

Quote: “As soon as you were born, the nurse laid you on a table. Most babies can’t even open their eyes after they are born, but yours were open wide, and you looked around at all of us crowded around you. And then you smiled. You smiled at all of us.”

Baby Lake’s Wisdom: When a baby is born, it doesn’t know what it’s getting into. It has no idea what troubles, difficulties, and complications lie in wait. But as soon as I was born, I smiled. I smiled in the face of the new, unpredictable future awaited me.

To live a happy life, one must smile. One must always smile. At bad jokes. At silly mistakes. In the face of danger and death. At the beginning of a new life, a new future.

Embrace change. Add purpose to potential. Don’t follow the people with the power. Smile.

Perhaps, if one did all of the above, they would bring a new and beautiful meaning to the word "live."



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