Life’s too long without happiness

Every aunt I’ve ever known has a refrigerator magnet that says, “Life’s too short, eat dessert first.” Various people on the Internet claim that the world’s young adults will live to be 120.

Whether that projection is accurate or not, 120 years is not a short life. In response, I say, “Life is too long, eat dessert first!”

If we go around the sun as many times as expected, the only thing to keep us sane and nice to our neighbors may be dessert. Life is too long to be mean to our bodies.

I frequently talk to mine as if it’s a separate person. I usually ask why it’s slow, tired, and bigger than most doctors would suggest a body be. If my body could stand up for itself, it would probably remind me that three meals of fried potatoes a day does not a healthy body make.

If millennials are going live to 120 years, we’re going to have to eat the occasional carrot. If we don’t, we may feel so bad all the time, we will have practically become zombies.

When taking the advice of a 21-year-old, well, you probably shouldn’t. The YMCA is a wonderful place to observe the people who have taken my advice too seriously. They seem to have forgotten that a jalapeño popper can be a vegetable if you just imagine hard enough.

If the body is deprived of delicious fats too long, you may make it to 120 years, but gosh, I’d be cranky. Life is too long to work all the time. I may be speaking to a young man who spends all his time on a grain truck. I bear this grudge because corn harvest limits my time talking to this aforementioned man and letting him nod politely.

Many of us have a tendency to throw all of our energy and time into our work. We are rewarded with bigger paychecks and better benefits, but I know I don’t need one-bazillion channels when all I watch is Comedy Central. I would rather spend my projected years working enough and having a lot more fun. If my nieces need some cookies, I will take a personal day to make a batch with them! I would like to make a counterpoint, suggesting that there are times when work is important. It’s a tough point to make, because we all know work is necessary and none of us like it.

With hurricane season upon us and tornados around the corner, work isn’t just punching in and out. Work is pulling wet sheetrock out of flooded homes and providing clothing to people whose homes don’t stand where they once did. Sometimes, life is barely long enough to do all the work that has to be done. Life is too long to rely on other people to make you happy.

If people walked slowly towards me, maintained eye contact, and waved a French fry in my direction, everyone would make me happy. Sadly, not everyone shares their fries with complete strangers. Sometimes I have to make my own fried potatoes. They’re mostly good, but I’ve burnt a few.

In a lazy, food obsessed way, I’m trying to say that you on your own can be happy. It may take awhile and a lot of practice, you may eat a lot of burnt potatoes, but you don’t need others to give you happiness.

Let’s limit Lila’s hubris. In the words of Bethel College’s own Dr. William Eash, “We are standing on the shoulders of those who came before us.” None of us have become the complex individuals we are without the help of our community and a few good books. It’s still important to make ourselves happy, but we can invest happiness into the community that has always built us up. So if our lives are going to last 120 years, we have a long time and many opportunities to make a difference.

Lila Tibbets is a Bethel College grad, Newton resident and grown-up farm girl.