I've Lived In Chico, CA 9 Years Now. Incredible.
Ho Ho NOT
One of the benefits of being wired practically 24-7 is keeping up on news of friends and family. It isn’t so fun when several of those folks are not doing so well for any reason. In recent weeks a couple of my friends around the country have lost their jobs. I also know of one who is having serious “work issues” through no discernible fault of her own, but who is going to face a near literal trial by fire within a week or so after holiday break.
And I have said nothing yet of those I know who are going through uncertainties related to health situations; one is a little girl fighting cancer. Others I care for are facing huge and unavoidable transitions this coming year, and some I know have been battling bad luck and more for quite some time. Thankfully, Facebook is there to keep me apprised.
Around the holidays, Facebook makes fun look so darn easy, within reach of anyone with eyes to see and especially those with dollars to spend. One friend who makes me smile is always reminding everyone how helpful a glass, or two, or three, of wine can be.
I too have contributed to the “ain’t I lucky” file having recently posted one idyllic Christmas tree photo, and other pleasant scenes. When cattle are lowing almost in your front yard, that occasion borders on the spiritual, at least in the Christmas-y musical sense of the word. I admit I am also proud of certain things, like being able to say that I have overcome the knee-knocking fear I felt a year and a half ago, and come into a new life I create, every day, of the whole cloth of my untried capabilities…and faith. I had faith before but I find the faith one has during near-hopeless phases has an altogether different tenor to it. I guess one must have one’s antenna pitched very high to receive that faith – that in a wireless age, sigh. That may be part of the problem; we grew ahead of ourselves in times of abundance and have lost the old ways of believing, of knowing value. Another story for another time.
Today having gone through what I did, I feel myself to be a brave and capable person in ways I wasn’t when things came more easily to me. This triumph is rather humble, as I had to aspire and achieve it from a low place. But even on not-great days I feel as if I am engaged in what we who run organizations call a sustainable (albeit very personal) enterprise.
But do any of my acquaintances who are going through anything negative now think for a second that I have forgotten what it feels like to be *that* scared, and that blind to anything good coming to me in the future? Not a chance. I won’t ever forget. And life being what it is, I will surely one day get another shot at it.
Philosophy lovers like me get bored of oft-repeated quotes like “that which does not kill makes me stronger,” because we know it is one of Nietzsche’s most famous lines. Those of us with access to a cornucopia of noble, wise, and encouraging phrases tend to think of it as a cliché.
But, those of you who suffer a little or a lot, don’t listen to me when I fall into saying things like that. Trust me, as a fellow suffering sojourner along the way, probably no line says the truth better than the crazy man’s did. Nietzsche’s story was sad; he ended up with an insane-idiotic set of experiences/outcomes to deal with, but like many of us, the man was gifted with incredible knowledge and insight during his finer moments. I would probably throw in a clumsily worded caveat: “That which does not kill you will make you stronger if you have faith, and keep putting one foot in front of the other when you don’t.” But if you whose holidays are not so perfect this year can hold to the original line as Nietzsche uttered it, and simply believe it, I would consider that a triumph in itself. From experience, I will tell you that it can be so.
This year I will be thinking of most every one of you on the best and worst days of 2012. As one of my old bosses – Frank –used to say, we are a special people together at a special place in time. We are fellow sojourners along the Way, and for whatever mysterious reason, we know one another, even if only kinda-sorta. Or we know “of” one another. When good fortune is being withheld from any one of us for some mysterious reason, remember if you can the deeper things, like friendship, companionship, presence and love. Whatever else happens that we cannot protect one another, much less ourselves from, may life always have an abundance of those things for us all.