Happy to be here at all

For some people, living comes naturally. Like breathing.

Others have to force things a bit. And they do, and they get by.

These two groups of “livers” are the lucky ones. Fortunate to feel the way they do.

Sadly, though, many people are struggling to find their way because of one circumstance or a combination of several. If I could help all these people, I would, but it’s a bold course of action that depends completely on these individuals making the choice to press on, staying positive and being thankful for what they’ve got.

Through a process of intricate, unnoticed evolution, I have become a member of the first group. Life goes so fast and is so damn full that I wish each day – even the ones that aren’t as good as the others – would go on like a broken record. Having a child has everything to do with this. I worry about age, time passing and the next phases coming before I’ve had a chance to appreciate the present.

It was not always like this. My life has been like an unstable business financial chart with more ups and downs than, looking back on it, I knew I was capable of withstanding.

High school was ups and downs but ended with a huge up my junior and senior years. This came down shortly thereafter following my freshman year of college. Didn’t know where I was headed. Hated the town I lived in. Wanted a new one.

Then came Wilmington. My sophomore year was okay at first, but then I realized I’d made a lousy choice in The Port City – I was stuck there until graduation, though.

There’s not much worse than being imprisoned in an village faker than a plastic Christmas tree that’s full of people who represent all the reasons other countries hate America. Time for one of my all-time lows that lasted three years.

I couldn’t wait for college to end.

What got me out of this slump were the chats I’d have with myself – they were pep talks, if you will – on nightly runs, which turned into frequent bike rides. The silence of everything except the sound of your breathing and the rhythm of your sneakers on the pavement or hum of a bike tire on a road leaves you with little capacity for anything else.

“What the fuck are you going to do?” I’d say to myself. “You’re here. This place sucks and everyone knows you think that. Now what. What does that accomplish?”

There was nothing accomplished by my pissing, moaning and seclusion.

I never did make any friends in Wilmington whom I still speak to regularly. I missed the bus on that one. Could have, but never did because I associated every face I saw with “Whispering Pines,” “Shady Meadows” and the golf courses composing the guts of housing traps such as these.

However, I taught myself to stop hating them. And it made my final days in Wilmington bearable. I survived. I began to live again, for the first time since I’d moved to North Carolina.

New Bern brought my first real job, but will forever represent the first time I was a father. Done with school, it was time to do what my dad did: family first, but work a close second. Things still hadn’t clicked.

Thousands of dollars, 18 months of custody battling and a billion smiles from a mischievous little girl who looks just like me later, I have arrived. Now, as I said, I just wish life would get stuck in first gear or at least spend some time in neutral. Living is like breathing these days and I am happy for every moment of my life.

I’m not so dumb to think nothing bad could ever happen in my life, but I’m smart enough to realize nothing could be so bad I cannot recover. That’s the difference between now and then: I am certain things will be just fine.

Life is funny the way it challenges us. Like we all realized our senior year of football, winning isn’t something our class was entitled to – it was something we had to work for.

Yes, life is very much like this.

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