This week has been an effort to align my thoughts with the harsh dichotomy we call life. Sometimes the cosmos throws out moments of such beauty that it steals your breath away, and other times, it feels like slogging through a deep valley in fog so thick you can’t place even the next step with confidence.
How does one make sense of such contradictions, all in the same package? How do we rectify that this world we live in has both blessings and curses? And how do we keep up? Especially when in the trenches, it’s hard to even determine if what you’re experiencing in your current situation is a blessing or a curse?
The very day I thought I recovered my laptop with smooth sailing ahead, electronically speaking, it froze and crashed permanently. This bothered me on so many levels, because not only am I out a laptop, I also lost a few pictures from an impromptu photo shoot I’d done that morning, as well as two articles I’d just written and had not yet backed up to external storage. All that, after I thought I had conquered the problem. Insult to injury, as they say.
So again, for most of a week I’ve been handicapped in computer access, forced to borrow or do without. I’m obviously still lacking in thankfulness that is a bi-product learned through frustration. Or is that really the best lesson to be applied through this? Is that the point of all this hardship? (Keep in mind the perspective here; we’re still talking first world problems like a faulty laptop, instead of say… no access to clean water.)
Along with that chronic frustration, my permanent roommate is running up against his own set of obstacles in his design work. He’s fighting to obtain materials, explain design concepts with the laser cutters, and sending out multiple emails daily in search of resolutions.
During those dark moments then, when all life feels uphill and staged against you, when it feels like battle… What do you make of the moments of beauty?
Therein lies the mental struggle to align. In a world full of frustrations and devastating blows alike, how do we handle the unexpected glimpses of glory? Everyone has to deal with the curses; life doesn’t seem to play favorites with the hard times. And yet the same holds true for the blessings as well.
I read a paper lately that said the people who notice and appreciate the beauty around them tend to live longer, happier, and more fulfilling lives. Hmm, thought provoking…
En route to the doctor to get test results, unable to completely deny the sense of impending doom that would accompany an unwelcome diagnosis, yet still hoping for the best case scenario, I was seeing a running list of blessings, ticking off, one by one, through my mind of all the reasons why I need to not be sick, and all the reasons to fight for if I am sick….
Then the glorious, weight-dispelling moment — that relieved, full inhale and exhale — when the doctor says, “It all looks good. False alarm.” That was one of the beautiful moments. Frustrations and battle are forgotten, and you feel like a million bucks. What do electronics and supply and demand matter, so long as one has health?
So what do we make of this contrast? On one hand, we have sickness; financial stress; loss of loved ones; devastating disasters and widespread plagues; insecurity in every area of life; obligations to commitments and over-commitments; and a thousand complications that bombard us daily, eroding and wearing us away. Slowly over time they add up till you feel life is all about the struggle.
Then, in the middle of that fight, come the most glorious, heart-stopping moments: the birth of your baby; a report of good health; sunsets and fields of wildflowers; hilarious antics of the family dog; a bonus or promotion at work; unexpected contact from a friend you had lost touch with; anonymous gifts that fill a desperate need… Moments of beauty in the middle of battle.
Being a huge LOTR fan, I recall a scene with Sam and Frodo, when Sam is doing his usual: encouraging and inspiring. You have to love Sam for that contribution alone. His reminder is this, “There’s still some good in this world, Mr. Frodo, and that’s worth fighting for.”
I jotted these thoughts down this morning before it was even light outside. At 4:30 (that’s AM), permanent roommate woke me up by clicking away on his phone, right next to me in bed. I, blurrily rolling over, mumbled, “Are you playing a game?” somewhat incredulously, not being a morning person myself.
He said, “No, I’m emailing that guy about my design work.” Oh, more of the same then. Same scene, second act. Or by this point, it may be the 5th or 6th act, or more. Didn’t we go to bed with this problem? Do we really have to wake up to it, too? At 4:30 in the morning?
So here I was, writing before the light of dawn and trying to tackle one of philosophy’s biggest questions. Something tells me I am not going to get this one solved and stored away neatly in columns with check boxes, much as I’d like too. Especially not before I even had coffee or saw the sun rise.
But I have to conclude this topic in agreement with Sam. There is still good in this world, and as long as there is, that’s worth fighting for.
The alternative is just too depressing.
While life feels at times to be bi-polar, with moments of extreme stress followed by glimpses of equally extreme awesomeness, something tells me the bad isn’t just going to give up and go away. The obstacles and opposition and challenges don’t seem to be optional.
Thank God, neither does the good. And as long as we have great diagnoses of health, sunrises, comrades in arms, and kids, how can we stop fighting? How can we give up with the next generation looking on, needing us to forge ahead a little longer and blaze a brighter trial, until they are ready to step up and take over?
Because if we stop trying, we allow the darkness to creep in and shadow out those moments of glory. And that would be unacceptable. We must keep on embracing the beauty and noticing the gifts at every opportunity and realizing as long as we’ve got life, we’ve got hope and beauty and reasons to keep on fighting for the good.