It’s an Ambiguous Life

10 Note iStock_000004513105smallby Mike O’Mary

Just about everybody’s favorite movie during the holidays is “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Everybody includes me. However, I think Frank Capra may have slightly off the mark. Sometimes it’s a wonderful life. But most of the time, it’s pretty ambiguous.

Oh, sure. Things turn out pretty well for Jimmy Stewart in the movie. But sad to say, for most of us, things would not be so cut and dry.

Have you ever wondered what the world would be like without you? What it would be like if you had never been born?

Maybe you think you’ve made the world a better place. But maybe your neighbor–the one who doesn’t like your dog and thinks you should mow your grass more often–maybe he liked things just fine before you came along. You see, value judgments–is life wonderful, or does it suck–are subjective. And subjectivity implies ambiguity.

With this in mind, I recently sat down to list all the pros and cons in my life. And frankly, I got a little depressed. For every good thing I had done in my life, there was something I shouldn’t have done–or something I should have done and didn’t. But it doesn’t hurt to sit back and think about the things you’ve done that made you feel good about yourself. And the things you’ve done that hurt your self esteem. Then do more of the former and less of the latter. And above all, be alert. Good things happen every day.

Like I said, it’s an ambiguous life. But it can still be wonderful. And in the end, we often find that ambiguity and wonder are not mutually exclusive.

Mike O’Mary is founder of Dream of Things, and author of Wise Men and Other Stories, a collection of holiday-related essays.

One thought on “It’s an Ambiguous Life”

  1. Feel good about yourself Mike. For every reader out there who you’ve impacted by your posts that you’ll never even know about. Most won’t leave a comment, but will walk away with a little piece of you in their heart for the day.
    And count me among them. 🙂

Comments are closed.