Living Life Well
What it means to live life well means, in essence, a variety of things to a vast array of individuals. One could say that Martin Luther King Jr. lived life well, while others may argue that fact in point. It could be said that Malcolm X lived a well life, but did he? Who can say, for sure, that one individual lived a well life, while another did not. Living life well, to me, means that an individual has prospered and triumphed through their own trials and tribulations; that they have made their opinions known, and stuck by them, never faltering, not even for an instance. To live life well does not mean that the individual has not failed, they may well have, but they have stood tall upon their own feet and fought for what they believed in. To live life well is to live by your own standards and rules, not by that of others; to live the examined or unexamined life, to live the only way you know how in an attempt to live life to the fullest.
Martin Luther King Jr. lived a life in which he stood up for what he believed in. He lived as though he were living for the world, that his every action and move was for the freedom that only he could help achieve. King had a great deal of followers, but, as well, as many foes. He spoke of freedom and the many things we take advantage of. He fought for his fellow black community, but did so in such a manner that was not demeaning or derogatory. He spoke of methods to reunite the American people, black and white alike, and fought, whole-heartedly, for desegregation. He had a dream, a dream which he was never able to see come to fruition, but a dream which his determination helped achieve. He lived a well life because he fought for what he believed in, stood up for his values, and died for his freedom, as have many American soldiers through the years. He was, by his own right and merit, an American soldier fighting for his people. The life he lived was well because he never faltered, even in the toughest of times, but continued to speak out and hope for a better, brighter tomorrow.
There is a great deal of controversy that surrounds Malcolm X and the manner in which he lived and fought. Although he stood up for what he believed in, it was in such a manner that was demeaning and derogatory toward the white community on the whole. He was not fighting for the freedom of his fellow people, but fighting for segregation, in a manner of speaking. He did not wish to reunite the black and white communities together, but, rather, to keep the communities separated, blacks on one side, and whites on the other. Malcolm X was not fighting for the freedom of the “little person” who was too weak to fight for them self, black or white, but rather fighting for his black community. He had a great many ideas that were ingenious, but the manner in which he presented them pointed the finger, as well as the blame, at the white man. X was fighting for the full separation of the black and white communities. He was fighting for separate church, state, laws, and methods of governing. Is it possible to fight for freedom, and, simultaneously, be fighting for segregation? Although his ides may have been somewhat “over the top” he stood up and fought for what he believed in, and died doing so. He may not have been as charismatic as Martin Luther King Jr., but he was, by his own earned right and merit, a figure of freedom to his community. As an individual I may not agree with a great deal of what he said, but it can not be taken away from him that he fought, as an American, and helped pave the way to freedom for his black community. It cannot be taken away from him that he lived a well life and that he died, as did King, like a soldier, for his people.
The question of what it means to live life well brings me back to saying that I have continuously heard throughout my life, “Carpe Diem,” or seize the day. In looking back on this phrase I cannot help but recall the movie “Dead Poets Society,” a movie in which this phrase was based upon. The main characters in the movie were living up to the expectations of their parent’s, they were not choosing their own path to live by, but, rather, their path had already been paved. The characters then met with a professor that encouraged them to be who they wanted to be, to live how they wanted to live, to break away from societal expectations and take charge of their own lives, for they only had one to make “extraordinary.” This then puts me deep in thought. I begin to wonder how one could live a well life if their life had already been mapped for them. Then I come to the conclusion that a life can still be lived well although lived through expectations for the fact that they knew no other way of life, to them that is “how life goes” that is what they do because it is expected. The characters in the movie did, however, take advantage of “Carpe Diem” and they did, in a manner of speaking, seize the day because they went against the standards of society, broke the rules, and formed their own group, the “Dead Poets Society.” They struggled to fight for what they believed in and struggled to stray from the expected. They saw a moment to seize and did so. Although the main character wanted nothing more than to be an actor, his father completely disapproved, but in meeting with the professor, John Keating, he realized that he needed to do what was in his heart, so, he stood against his father and disobeyed by participating in a play. When his father found out he became enraged, arguing that he was going to send him to military school because he was going to become a doctor. Although his father felt that he was giving him advantages that he, himself, had not had, he was living, vicariously through his son, which, ultimately ended in a teenage suicide and Keating being fired from his position. The other charters, however, still stood up for what they believed in and showed their support to Keating by standing upon the desks and shouting “Oh Captain, My Captain.” The lives of these boys were forever changed because someone had entered into their lives and had encouraged them to live in an extraordinary way and to live for themselves. Although many of these boys still continued on the path it which their fathers had mapped for them, they now knew what it was to live a well life and, at very least, had the option to make the lives of their own children different and to allow them to make their own decisions and plans, to live for who they are.
In my own life I have been given an option. I have been allowed to make my own decisions and to choose my own destiny, my own path. I may not be fighting for freedom, and struggling to stray from expectations which have been placed on me, but I am, in essence, involved in my own struggle, a struggle to life my life my way. I will not say that I have not failed along the way, because I have, in every sense of the word, but I have gotten back up on my feet and continued, knowing that there is always a better tomorrow. I have fallen and had a difficult time getting back up again, but I have managed. I have failed, and will continue to do so, but many of the great men, as Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X also failed, but lived well lives because of the fact that they fought for what they believed was right, and in time their dreams became a reality, for the fact that they stood steadfast, as do I. I have not looked for a definition on how to live my life from a dictionary. I have not cross-referenced and quoted, but have made my own rules and have life my life well, thus far. To live life well means a great many things to a great many people. To me it means to live by your own standards and to never falter on what you believe in and believe to be true.