Day 10: Living vs. Surviving

Write something for which you feel strongly.

In 10th grade I had a physics teacher named Mr. Just. He was straight out of 1955 with his slickly side-parted (but thinning) hair, button-up short sleeve white or plaid shirt tucked into dark slacks. Every day. He was very tall with a booming voice that would at the very least grab the attention of us unruly kids long enough for him to give instructions. When he gave us quizzes or tests we were never allowed to use calculators, we always had to write our answers in exam books similar to these, and we had to write using these old school blue boy pencils that had no erasers which forced us to use those even older school erasers that did more smearing than erasing.

I had another teacher for AP Chemistry, Mr. Luce. He was pretty much the opposite of Mr. Just – a lot younger, always wore jeans and a t-shirt (although tucked in), more unkept (but still thinning) hair, and walked into zero period with a 7-Eleven Big Gulp of Diet Coke. Every day.

What’s my point? One day Mr. Luce tells us a story about Mr. Just coming into the faculty lunch room every day with a bag from Wendy’s. Another teacher notices that he has Wendy’s every day and says, “Why do you eat Wendy’s every day? Don’t you want to live longer?” to which Mr. Just replies, “Would I be living, or surviving?”

I’m not entirely sure if Mr. Luce told us that story, or if another teacher did (it was almost 20 years ago), but I think if any teacher told us that story, it would’ve been him. That story always stuck with me — not because it validated my horrible teenaged eating habits, but because it helped me realize even at a young age that life is to be lived, not tolerated.

There’s a lot of debate in this country about income inequality and the “One Percent”, but we often forget that to the rest of the world, we are the One Percent. Even if you’re sharing an apartment with three people eating instant ramen every day (which I have done), you’re basically living the dream because 1) you live in an apartment and 2) you’re eating every day. It’s hard to be appreciative of anything while people are throwing balls into baskets and punching faces for millions of dollars, but it’s all relative. I’m not saying you should just accept the three-roommate-and-instant-ramen life forever and I’m not saying it’s okay for CEOs to be making 354 times more than the average worker (yes, really), However, I am saying that many people on earth have no choice but to tolerate life. We are lucky enough to have the opportunity to live it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *