By Laina Sweetney

When I was a little girl, I always loved the thrill of riding my bike with no hands. I would trek up the tallest hill of my neighborhood and sit at the top anticipating my journey back to the bottom. Through my deep inhales and exhales I closed my eyes, nudged my bicycle forward and began my plunge. I would let the wind beat away my fear as I unlatched my fingers from the handlebars and let myself be swept away. In those moments I was free, boundless and infinite.

Back then, life was simple. My responsibilities were wrapped up in bite-sized inconveniences called chores. My fears were only as strong as the scary movie commercial I’d seen the day before, and the only enemies I had were named bedtime and vegetables. Yet, somehow at a young age I had mastered the art of letting everything go and basking in life’s beauty. Those simple blind plunges taught me the most important part of life: To simply live it.

As we grow older, society trains us to believe that life should be measured by success. Hard work and dedication become the fuel that propels us forward, and we crave it as if it is our lifeline. We thrive on competition, progression and becoming the best we can be. I, too, have been molded by these ideas. I’ve watched the care-free child I used to be turn into a woman who spends every waking moment of her life attempting to become better than she was yesterday. But just like many other adults, in the midst of me keeping an eye on the prize, I became blind to life itself. The reality is that life keeps going rather you pay attention to it or not. Life is happening now.

In life, it is important to not let your hunger for a brighter future blind you from the beauty of the present. At the end of the day, life isn’t all about the accomplishments you make, the battles you win or how successful you become–if this were true we’d have fewer unhappy billionaires.

Life is what happens when you take a moment to admire the sky while you’re on your way to get your daily cup of coffee or when you close your laptop and go take a walk around the lake. Life is the sweet glances you make at someone you love and the times when you go stark raving mad with laughter. Life happens when you promise yourself to be happy with who you are today and where you are today, no matter what. Life is what happens when you take a deep breath, close your eyes, let go and enjoy the free, boundless and infinite beauty of simply existing. After all, right here and right now is all we’ve got


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