Learning from Life - Jeff Riggins Photography

Learning from Life

One year ago, was a very difficult time for my family. Two of my very best heroes passed away, a mere 8 days apart. Grandpa passed away on April 16th, at the age of 91. Grandma, at the age of 87, passed away one year ago today, April 24th. I can’t put into words the amount of influence these two have had on my life. There is absolutely no reason for sorry’s. I don’t want to hear any “sorry for your loss”, simply because man, I haven’t lost anything! Sure, I miss them like crazy, but I choose to think of how lucky I was to have shared life with them. I choose to think. It’s about perception. If ya’ll knew the amount of amazing memories I was able to experience with these two superstars, you would understand. It’s a celebration! What is there to be sorry about? Two people in love and married over 60 years. They lived to be about 90. Working around the yard and doing just about anything they wanted to at their ripe old ages. Passing away only 8 days from one another, is a miracle. They had one of the coolest grandkids ever! I mean ever! My heart is filled with amazing memories! I choose to celebrate that!

To anyone of my friends that may be going through hard times or just can’t seem to have good days, listen up! So many people ask me how or why, I’m always happy. Is it just how I present myself on things like “Fakebook”? No freakin way! This is it man! It’s a lot about how you perceive the world and your place in it. I choose to think that life is amazing! It’s because I’ve seen that bad, that I’m able to feel the great! It’s about looking at the bright side of things. Losing my grandparents was tough, but instead of being sad, I’m so happy that I had the time with them. Similar in life, you THINK it sucks? I’ll bet it does! I can promise you I’ve been through hard times. I’ve been the lowest of lows. It is because of that, that I know why today feels so damn good!

In my Psychology class, I was asked to write about someone who had been homeless. It got me thinking. I actually laughed out loud. Not the lol crap, but actually laughed. By definition, I was homeless at a time in my life. I have slept in a vehicle for three weeks because I was homeless. How crazy! Man, that bed sure feels great nowadays! Everyone’s circumstances in life are different. If you never know what it’s like to struggle, how can you appreciate what it’s like not to? When the kiddos were little, I remember having 3 bucks in our pocket. Like seriously, 3 bucks to our name! No joke! I thought, you can’t do much with 3 bucks, but…. If we buy 3 lottery tickets then maybe, just maybe, we can win big. Well, one stop at the Pak-A-Sak, and I quickly had zero bucks in my pocket! Darn the luck! Looking back it absolutely cracks me up to think about it. True story! I can truly appreciate the feeling of having a 20 in my pocket nowadays. That 20 feels so much better because I know what 3 felt like.

When I was a young kid, we lived in low income housing. Earthstone Terrace in Muncie to be exact. I remember not having electric for quite awhile one winter. No money for the bill. Each night, we’d all get together and lay on blankets in the living room. Making animal shapes on the ceiling by candlelight was awesome. Rough at the time, sure. Looking back, it’s one of the best memories! It sure is nice to flip on a light switch!

You ever go camping or somewhere without water? When you get home, that shower feels amazing! Why does it feel so good? It’s because you know what it felt like without. How about when you weren’t healthy? It quickly becomes the most important thing in the world. Nothing else matters. When you get over a sickness or heal a broken bone, life feels better than before. One day, those knees may not let you do the things you want, so get out there and see the world now!

As an owner of a small retail business for several years, and a certified workaholic, I know what it felt like to be caged. I had zero time! No time for anything. Stress levels to the max. Laying in bed at night completely stressed out. Sure, some days, I wouldn’t have traded it for the world. Other days, it just didn’t make sense. I’m working one job now. I have my evenings and weekends off. If people could see me on a daily basis, they’d think I’m crazy! I walk around outside and can’t help but stare at the clouds and the sky. If I see a flower, it’s like man-o-man look at that purple! Have the sunrises always looked this way? Check out that old barn! If I’m inside at dusk, I always make it a point to peek out the window to see what colors are in the sky. If it’s something cool, you better believe I’m out there taking pictures. People are likely to see me parked alongside the road or walking in random places just to check things out. I seriously have just a tad bit of insane in me. Some days more than others! If I can make an opportunity to go on an adventure somewhere, by golly… I’m gone! It’s because of the stress and lack of time I’ve experienced, that I’m able to make the most of my free time now. If I didn’t know the feeling of no time, how could I appreciate the time I do have? I mean really appreciate it. Not like, hey I’m glad I’m off today. I mean like, holy cow man! I have a whole day…. Whhaaatttt am I gonna do with all of this time! Get some! Woohoo! Let’s get to gettin baby!!! It’s because of the struggles.

Over 14 years in law enforcement, I’ve seen how fragile life is. We’re always working with people on their worst days. Think of how many times you’ve called 911 in your life. For most of you, it’s zero. Think of how your day would be going if you had to call. Well, that’s the day we interact with most people. It gets you thinking sometimes. Yesterday their life was fine, but today their husband is dead from a car crash. A tractor rolled over and killed someone. He had a heart attack at the age of 38. So many things we get to see. One minute life is good, but the next minute, everything is destroyed by a house fire. I’ve seen so many people far worse off than I am. Families torn apart by drug abuse. I know what a bad day is like. So many things you see that make you appreciate who and where you are.

The point to all of that is, I ain’t never learnt nuthin when times were great. It’s because of the struggles I’ve been through that make me appreciate the times when things are good. Not just good, but great! The difference is how you perceive it. It’s how you CHOOSE to see it. If you think life sucks, well, I’ll bet you it does. There are some things out of your control, but most things are very much in your control. If I didn’t love my job, you better believe I wouldn’t be there. I’d change it. Why not? At the end of life, what the heck man? Why didn’t you take a chance here and there? Hate your life, but you keep doing the same thing everyday? Hmm… how about changing something! The way I SEE it, is when I’m on my last day, what will I regret? Shoulda, coulda, woulda stuff? You bet! I’m not going to look back and think, well I put 40 years into this or that, I wasn’t happy, but man I sure played it safe! Ahh… bull crap! When you’re going through the hard times, realize that it’s making you who you are. It’s teaching you things. If it weren’t for having 3 bucks, you’d never be so excited to have 20!

As always, these are just random thoughts from an ole dumb hillbilly. I’ve covered a few main points in what I’ve wrote’n today. My English professor would be mad that I rambled. Too many points in one write up. Ahh… whateva! I just write about it as it comes to me. Looking back on all I was going through this time last year, it just made me want to write about a few things. I know that life can change in an instant! Two minutes after I write this, my world could fall apart. That’s just how it works. I’ve seen it! Life is great right now. I’m going to make the most of every single moment I’m blessed with. I’m only able to see the world in this light, because of the times I’ve struggled. I’ve said this many times before, but one day… one day, you will wish for one more day. Whether you see it or not, today is that one day! What are you going to do with it now that you have it?

Let me know what you think

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