In a confused, confusing world that seems to be spinning out of control more with each day and each hour and each second — causing me to repeat the words of a Classics professor at Vassar who used to say, “It’s thrilling to live at the end of a civilization!” — there are moments when I breathe and realize nothing is as bad as we think it is.
- We are safe (for the most part)
- We are fed (for the most part)
- We are functioning (for the most part)
If you nodded your head to any of this, then you (like I) are incredibly fortunate and we both have cause to pause and be grateful.
But, in those moments when I get caught up in the sturm und drang of everyday life, I realize that (like that old Spandau Ballet song), I know this much is true:
- I know that in the dark moments, when I think all is lost, someone always shows up to say kindly, “Hey, it’s not as bad as you’ve made it in your head.” Often, it’s not the person I’m expecting will say that. In those moments, I try to remember to accept grace when it shows itself.
- I know that sometimes kindness is accompanied by a bit of a kick in the ass. That’s okay. If we are strong, we accept both the love and the push.
- I know that half of our society over-intellectualizes things, and the other half oversimplifies things.
- I know that most answers lie in the drab, grey middle — not those brilliant, sexy black and whites.
- I know that strength is multi-dimensional and that when I resign strength to merely physical or intellectual or emotional parameters, I limit myself and others.
- I know that I feel, almost always, like I am a beginner. I’m not certain this is bad, but sometimes it is disconcerting.
- I know that there is no sadness like the quiet on the other side of your front door after your dog has died. You put the key in … and the silence deafens you. And then you cry.
- I know that when someone you love dies, you feel like you can’t go on … but you do. And somehow that realization seems to hurt even more.
- I know that life is trial and pain and suffering and sadness … and that life is also warmth and joy and success and ecstasy and love. Sweet, wonderful love in all its forms and follies, its bitterness and beauty, its heart-breaking phenomenal presence in our lives that reminds us from the tender breath of babies to the last shallow intakes of those passing from this world that we have been lucky to have this experience, to be here, to draw breath at all. And I give thanks. I know this much is true.