Like most of America, I was moved by Lupita Nyong’o’s Oscar acceptance speech. It was emotional and inspiring and one thing she said really struck me and got me thinking. Ms. Nyong’o said “It doesn’t escape me for one moment that so much joy in my life is thanks to so much pain in someone else’s”. Besides the obvious connotation in her work on the Oscar winning film on slavery, this applies so readily to our own lives, for many different reasons.
Think about the things and people you love, the relationships and belongings you treasure. What price did you pay for them? I don’t mean money, not exactly anyways. How many hours of overtime did you work to buy a new car? What sacrifices had to be made so your child could join that sports team, have the proper equipment and get to all the games? In terms of a different price, how many nights did you miss tucking your children in because you were at work or taking night classes? That great guy you are dating- how many times were hearts broken before you two met? The corner office came at a price- was it having a family?
It’s not about being a martyr or being materialistic, it’s about recognizing how things came to be. This doesn’t mean being depressed over what you have, but rather recognizing their true worth. Appreciating the journey – how hard you worked, how long you held on, how much sleep you lost, how many tears were shed- can be eye opening and help you realize how blessed you really are.
My own life is full of these blessings brought about by pain or sacrifice. Seeking help for my mental illness was something I did for myself, as my own great grandmother didn’t have that chance. During that era, mental illness was not talked about, so she suffered in silence for years. I am very fortunate to have so many resources for finding help that she did not and my life is improving as a result of getting help. My mother continues to make sacrifices for me even now that I am an adult. Despite working a full time job and keeping her own house, she reminds me to take my medicines, lets me know when it seems I am cycling, goes out for coffee dates with me and just pretty much helps me keep my crap together. In a million years, I’d never be able to even come close to giving her what she has given me.
Are there things or relationships in your own life that mean more to you simply because of how they came to be? Please share them in the comments!