The Lives Of Others




Fiction and art reflect the pleasures, passions and pains of real life.  In abstract paintings and tapestries, we see brilliant hues, soft tones and ominous dark colors; plots in novels reflect characters with changing moods, suffering and ecstasies; music contains melodic and harmonious passages, alternating with darker sounds.  Operas and even afternoon soaps are filled with agony, ecstasy and intrigue.  Such is life.  Yet we seem to need dramas in “the lives of others”; news stories of celebrities, fictional melodramas, or contrived reality TV shows that reveal heroics and humiliations of other people.


We’re a celebrity-obsessed culture, captivated by the triumphs and tribulations of the rich and famous.  Breathless exposés in the churning media enable us to bathe in the muck and ways of the wayward.  And then we “cleanse ourselves” by clucking self-righteously at their follies.


We use Facebook, Twitter, and You Tube.  We blog and cyber chatter about others.  There are millions of “gossip columnists” around the world spreading juicy vignettes via 24/7 Internet.  The critic Roland Barthes wrote, “Mass Culture is a machine for showing our desires.”  Is following the excesses of others what we are really all about?  


The fact is, real-life stories are as complex and captivating as the stuff of fiction, television and film.  We are the de facto stars of our own unique stories, living out our own dramatic “scripts.”


From childhood through our elder years, our lives are filled with unforeseen events. Twists and turns are not exceptions in our pathways; they are the rule.  We all experience, endure and exult in the course of our lifetimes.  While we celebrate our milestones and relationships, we all make mistakes and suffer upheavals.


Human beings are such resilient souls, with remarkable inner and outer resources.  We all suffer setbacks, but we inevitably come back from loss and misfortune, and we learn to cope and to overcome adversity.  In good times we are aglow, and exude bonhomie and warmth to others and ourselves.


The trick is to balance our highs and lows, to take heart when things are down, to appreciate when good fortune smiles on us, and not to conclude during the “snapshots” of our lives that this is the way it will always be.  Life is a marathon, not a sprint, and the relationships we make and savor along the way help determine the quality of our lives.


We can always grow, be enriched and learn from the extraordinary tapestry of life.  Our lives are filled with a multitude of experiences, all capable of enhancing and ennobling us. We have but one life to lead, so let’s make the most of it:  make it count, make it sing, make it soulful, make it ring!




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