Saturday, January 24, 2009

The good, the bad, and the way it is...

The last few weeks/months have been tough ones for me and my family. However, I am repeatedly reminded, because I repeatedly forget, that it's way too easy to focus on the things that go wrong in life and take for granted the things that go right. It is also really easy to mistake the two... what we often perceive as right isn't necessarily so and vice versa. Some friends of ours have lost a baby, and my heart goes out to them. My wife and I are expecting a baby soon so this loss is closer to home to us in many ways. I know that time, the great healer, will move forward inexorably and life will fall back into its semblance of normalcy for our friends, whatever normalcy is, and joy and happiness will return to their lives.

It seems funny and somehow both merciful and cruel that when we are in the depths of sorrow life goes on for everyone around us. Even when it seems our lives have stopped, everyone else's seems to go on. I learned a long time ago that the word 'fair' is just that, a word. It is a word that is steeped in so much subjectivity that it is close to meaningless. I have had the opportunity and blessing to travel quite a bit during my adult life, and I have seen and noticed things that would challenge almost anyone's notion of fairness. However, I have also seen people who are amidst this unfairness laugh and smile, play with their children, and find joy where many of us would be unable to. Walt Whitman wrote a poem called "O Me! O Life!", and it is a very poignant poem. I suggest to anyone reading this blog to go out and read this poem. In it Whitman discusses the gross wrongs and evils of the world, and the futility of existence. He asks a question, "what good amidst these? Then he follows it up with a very powerful answer. In fact, let me post the poem here for you.

Walt Whitman (1819–1892). Leaves of Grass. 1900.

166. O Me! O Life!

O ME! O life!... of the questions of these recurring;

Of the endless trains of the faithless—of cities fill’d with the foolish;

Of myself forever reproaching myself, (for who more foolish than I, and who more faithless?)

Of eyes that vainly crave the light—of the objects mean—of the struggle ever renew’d;

Of the poor results of all—of the plodding and sordid crowds I see around me;

Of the empty and useless years of the rest—with the rest me intertwined;

The question, O me! so sad, recurring—What good amid these, O me, O life?


That you are here—that life exists, and identity;

That the powerful play goes on, and you will contribute a verse.

Time will always move forward, the laws of thermodynamics ensures this, and life will keep pace with it. Change is a reality, but it doesn't have to be a harsh one. If we accept change in all of its myriad forms then we will become stronger and we will contribute very powerful verses.