What I Learned from Mimi
Society tends to believe that quality of life over quantity is the key to success, therefore happiness. Humans are encapsulated in materialistic, tangible items because of the fleeting feeling of joy it momentarily provides. Unlike those who have spent extensive amounts of money and time to achieve the hope of happiness, I found it in a beautiful being who probably has no idea how to spell happiness.
Needing community service hours and merely not caring where I volunteered, I chose to volunteer at Shake-A-Leg Miami without knowing what was to come. Shake-A-Leg Miami is an inclusive non-profit organization built around water sports activities for kids with disabilities and their families to enjoy. After my first week, I fell in love with the environment and made many friends with the staff and campers. I saw the world in a different light. I was in charge of caring for Miriam, a ten-year-old girl, and accompanying her to all the activities throughout the day. Miriam, Mimi for short, is constantly labeled “different” by those who meet her. Her autism is often stamped directly on her forehead, automatically deeming her incompetent. Removing that stamp helped me realize that society’s labels on the disabled community were misleading.
The first thing I noticed about Mimi was how her eyes resembled the clear, blue sea and how she always had a bright green apple in her hand. Contradicting her calm blue eyes were her unapologetically loud greetings early every morning. Throughout my life, my friends and family have never been greeted the way Mimi greeted me with such enthusiasm. I noticed that Mimi carried an apple everywhere, almost like a blankie or a stuffed animal. I never understood the concept of being attached to an inanimate object because I never had that obsession. This apple seemed to provide her with a sense of comfort like it was a catalyst for her happiness. Whenever it was time for a new activity, she would grip the apple as hard as she could and take one singular bite of it. Little by little, bite by bite, she got through each day, no matter how intimidating or difficult. I connected this as a parallel to how we carry specific attributes through life to conquer our fears and tribulations. Mimi would step out of her comfort zone daily with an apple at hand.
I learned that life would be troublesome, and no matter what obstacles I face, my mindset is in my control, my version of Mimi’s apple. Mimi’s favorite activity was sailing. Every morning she would happily run to the sailboat and throw herself over the side onto the net. As the current generously danced with us, so did Mimi, singing along to her favorite songs. Where Mimi lay, still with her apple at hand, her freehearted spirit spread to anyone near her. Time stopped when Mimi wanted it to, and I could see it in the comfortable silence she existed in when she was in proximity to Mother Earth’s water. I wonder how often I allowed myself to enjoy freedom as she does. I wonder when was the last time I participated in an activity that I enjoyed and did not worry about a grade on a test. Mimi refused to allow life’s little inconveniences to stop her from making the most of her day. Her nonchalant attitude on life allows me to see that the constant worry about getting a good grade on a test will not be relevant to my worth or future. Mimi lives her life with infinite capacities of happiness, especially when she is riding on the sailboat.
Mimi’s positive and youthful take on life is the same level of happiness I strive to reach when taking my first few steps into the real world.