Celebrating What it Means to Live a Life

Well the Oscars certainly didn’t disappoint. I’ll get to Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway in a second, but first I want to talk about Viola Davis’ acceptance speech.

For those of you keeping score at home Ms. Davis won the Oscar for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for her part in Fences. I haven’t seen the movie yet, but I certainly plan on it because, let’s be honest here, anything with Denzel Washington AND Viola Davis is sure to be awesome.

But, that’s neither here nor there.

In her acceptance speech, Ms. Davis (deservedly so) got very emotional and began what seemed to be a tremendous talk about some of the greatest stories being buried in the graveyard, and, while often overlooked, they are the ones worth telling (you can see the whole bit HERE).

It’s tough to dispute her statement. I love reading memoirs and watching biopics. What better way to honor someone and learn something new?

Ms. Davis then went on to say, “I became an artist, and thank god I did because we are the only profession that celebrates what it means to live a life.”

Everybody stop.

I think we’ve found ourselves an early front-runner for hot take of the year.

With all due respect, Ms. Davis, I disagree. Artists are not the only ones who “celebrate what it means to live a life.”

Asserting that artists are the only ones who do so is simply false. I’m not going to let your profession own this– everyone shares it.

Our lives are unique stories, and we are all the sole writers. Each story influences every other one out there, but ultimately they are our own. Some are told, and others are internalized for eternity. That doesn’t make one superior to the other, nor does it mean that some lives are celebrated while others are not.

Ask anyone with cystic fibrosis if he or she celebrates his or her life. Ask the same question to a cancer patient undergoing weeks of chemotherapy, or someone with Type-One Diabetes who is reliant on an Insulin pump, or a soldier in a far off corner of the world, or a first grade teacher standing in front of a class of 25 on the first day of school, or an EMT resuscitating someone in the back of an ambulance, or the mother who commutes 45 minutes to and from work each day after dropping the kids off at school.

Ask anyone.

I celebrate my life every day that I wake up; every time I start up my nebulizer and pour the medicine in; every time I connect myself to my feeding tube; every time I think about the people with CF who were born before the boom in medications; I celebrate my life every single goddamn time I cough.

No one is forcing me to do these things that keep me alive. I choose to do them because I want to live.

We celebrate life by recognizing the opportunity to pursue and seize our dreams. I make the choice to continue the pursuit of happiness every day that I wake up and continue to walk straight into the face of adversity. By making that choice, I am celebrating life and its fragilities.  I’m not alone in this. There are 70,000 people with cystic fibrosis and millions who deal with adversity on a daily basis.

You are wrong, Ms. Davis. Artists are not the only ones who celebrate a life. While you certainly do an incredible job of it, you are not alone on this path.

Here are a few examples:

Me in high school:

 

The Homeless Minor Leaguer:

 

Pete Frates and the Ice Bucket Challenge:

 

The Green Day fan who jumped on stage with the band:

We are alive! Maybe we all don’t live under the exact same circumstances, but we make do with the hand we are dealt and we celebrate in our own ways.

It doesn’t take a movie screen to change the world, just ask Pete Frates. His Ice Bucket Challenge has given hope to the thousands living with ALS.

Every single one of us has the potential to leave a mark on this planet; the size of which does not matter because the legacies we leave behind will last forever whether they are told or not.

We live them every day. We celebrate them.


I would be remiss not to comment on the Best Picture f*ck up. I think Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway were set up to fail (whether on purpose or not??). It’s difficult to recover from being given bad info, and as the saying goes, it’s better to fail at 100% than half ass it with a degree of uncertainty.

It was pretty funny, though, that old Warren handed that grenade of an envelope to Faye in front of millions. Absolutely ruthless. “I can’t tell what’s going on here… you take responsibility.” Nah, Warren… this one is on you big guy. But, hey… you’ll go down in the annals of movie history for a few reasons.

How is it that people (cast and crew included!) who are paid to rehearse on-camera moments to perfection can screw up the ultimate moment at the award show designed to honor absolute perfection?

Sift through that complex sentence and discuss in the comments.

(h/t Washington Post)

(Main image: Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP Images)