Based on a combination of federally sponsored long-weekends (MLK Day, President’s Day, Memorial Day, etc.), birthdays, and religious holidays, I find myself on a train or a bus at least once a month for the first six months of every year. Most people would find that stressful, but I just zone out on the ride, taking the opportunity to daydream, listen to music, and get some thinking done.
For example, this past weekend I went home to visit my parents and their new puppy. This was my third such trip this year and so the route has become distinctly familiar to me. However, a new billboard caught my eye as we were pulling up into the city. It said:
“Life is good.”
I’ve seen this phrase on bumper stickers, water bottles and college students’ laptops before, but this was the first time I’d ever seen it on a billboard. It stuck out to me. So I looked up the company.
According to their website, Bert and John Jacobs’ “simple message of optimism was embraced like nothing the brothers had ever seen.” By emphasizing simplicity, humor, and humility in their brand, they appealed to an audience of people determined to reflect the same in their own lives. It is a remarkable achievement.
And yet as I passed this billboard at 11:00 on a Saturday morning, I wondered why everyone suddenly needed such a large reminder.*
If life is good, then why do we have to keep reminding ourselves? If we’re happy with the way our lives are, then why do we keep over analyzing them? Why do we question every good thing that comes our way when we could just sit back, daydream, and enjoy the ride?
I’d like to say that I had some kind of epiphany on this trip or that I made some solemn vow to “be positive” and “look on the bright side,” but I didn’t. Observations like this only ever seem to lead to more questions. They make me evaluate myself and my life, but leave me with no real answers or epiphanies to speak of, only notions of things that could be or might be or should be.
But the phrase isn’t wrong.
“Life” is good. Being alive is good. When the day sucks or something goes wrong, that’s the part of this phrase that I need reminding of. I don’t need someone to tell me that what I have is ok if it actually isn’t. I need someone to remind me that living means potential, that it means hope and possibilities. Sometimes its all too easy to forget.
*Let it be known that my article is more a philosophical discussion point than any actual issue with the brand itself. I think the brand is great, honestly! Keep doing what you do.