“To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that’s all.”

— Oscar Wilde

Inhale. Hear the ticking of the clock. Exhale. Tick. Inhale. Tock. Exhale. This is life, and it’s ending with each breath.

Few of us are alive. True, our bodies are technically living. Our hearts are beating, pumping blood through our veins. Our lungs suck in and expel air. Our skin colors or tears in response to afflictions imposed on it. But few are truly alive. We develop habits, patterns.Jayne Ruppert

From waking up to getting dresswd in the same outfit in slightly different shades to eating the same cereal. You stare at the same billboards every day on the way to work, but you wouldn’t remember what they were advertising if anyone ever asked you.

Then working with the same people at your same job that is so predictable you’re picking up the phone a second before it rings while eating the turkey and Swiss cheese sandwich and low-fat strawberry yogurt you have each day.

Then stopping at the grocery store on your way home and spending 20 minutes debating if there’s really any difference between reduced-fat cheddar cheese and low-fat cheddar cheese and then deciding to just buy regular cheddar cheese and getting checked out by the poor college student with the faraway look of “Where is my life really going?” in his eyes.

Then going home and making the chicken, bread and salad dinner you had the previous night while watching local news and possibly the first 10 minutes of “Jeopardy!” and then giving your cat a gentle pat on his head while heading to brush your teeth.

Then crawling into bed, reading the next three and a half pages of that book you swore you were going to finish by the end of August of the previous year, turning out the light and trying not to think about the fact that you have to do it all over again tomorrow.

This is what life has become. You reach a certain age and lines start manifesting themselves into your face.

You have a line from financial worries and how you’re going to afford health insurance for that cold your spouse has developed that “looks like it’s turning into something serious.”

Another line from over-analyzing your relationship with your spouse and worrying that the “fire” is dwindling from your relationship and if you’ll have to live with your mother again if things go south.

A line from worrying about whether your child is developing at the average rate your pediatrician has specified.

A line from reading too many diet and exercise plans and not ever following through with any of them and then another line from feeling guilty about that doughnut you ate for breakfast.

Then a line from agonizing over the other lines on your face and debating whether to get Botox and whether your co-workers notice that you haven’t showered in two days.

Gone is the time when you could be a “free spirit.” The nights when you could get in your car and drive straight to the beach to watch the sunrise, just for the heck of it. The days when you could sit on your kitchen floor and eat frozen Eggo waffles for dinner while skipping the financial section of the newspaper and going straight to Peanuts and The Family Circus.

Spontaneity, joy, peace are gone. Energy and zest have disappeared — replaced with fatigue and anxiety and stress. The world is no longer your oyster. You’ve given up on the “ridiculous” claim that you can be whatever you want to be. Your dream is exactly that — a dream.

You keep your head down, trudging along, just doing what it takes to get by. But what’s the point? What do you do it for? To have a nice house in a nice part of town and shop at nice stores, so you can wear nice clothes and people will look at how nice you look and know you’re doing something right financially, and they’ll believe you have it all nicely figured out. But what is all that worth in the end?

Life isn’t about how much money you have in your wallet or what degree you got in college or if you have hardwood or tile floors or if your jeans have a certain design on the back pocket or if you eat processed or organic peanut butter.

Life is about being mad. Those are the ones who live — the mad ones — few as they may be. The ones who feel emotions and passion so deeply you can tell they’re about to burst. The ones who believe you can sleep when you’re dead. The ones who reach for their dream with both hands — even though it’s risky, even though they may have a few cold nights, a few hungry days.

The ones who live out spontaneity, not letting fear stop them but rejoicing when a new life experience is had, whatever it may be. The ones who don’t walk with their heads down but turn them up toward the sky. Those are the mad ones. Those are the ones who live. Those are the ones for me.

Jayne Ruppert is a senior at Westside Christian High School. She writes a monthly column in the Lake Oswego Review. To contact her, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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