Well [Sartre]

It’s a day for starting over.  Its a new chance.  Everything will be just fine, I’m sure of it. I have no way of really knowing, but in these cases, isn’t it best to err on the side of whatever you need to tell yourself to thrive?

Starting over is terrifying.  New roads, new dawns, new experiences.  They are all exhilarating and devastating at the exact same time.  Life is a constant process of violently tearing down what used to be and growing new beginnings from the ashes.  I don’t know why I, why we, ever expected it to be any different.  Look at the world around us.  It’s in constant flux, constant change.  Winter freezes the world and rips everything we knew to shreds (or at least it does here in my Middlewest).  Then spring comes and from the snow covered ground peep crocus and daffodils and green beans.  And then a year later, it happens all over again.  Eventually you find the evergreens that last you through the seasons and  you start seeing that the deciduous trees are not so dead as they seem.  But for a time, while we’re young, the world spins so damn fast.

And that’s good.  We’re not meant to slow down, to wait, to get comfortable.  “Up from the ashes grow the roses of success”.  Creepy movie, valid point.  We have to make mistakes.  We have to crash and burn.  We have to live at top speed and go the wrong direction if it least it means we get moving.  And life won’t leave us hopeless.  We won’t stay orphaned.  Abandoned and destroyed and left to die.  We’re adopted into a world of beauty and hope and growth.  A world of endless nightfalls, but also endless sunrises.  And someday, after we’ve learned to stop fearing the dusky twilight, we’ll start to see that its followed by the starts.  And we’ll learn to love the night as much as the dawn.

I was driving to St Louis on Friday and listening to the Wicked soundtrack along the way and I was struck by how many times they used the phrase “For Good” as a wordplay on its implications of finality as well as its opposition to evil. Because I knew you, I have been changed for good.  And I wanted to believe that its true.  That we can use the phrase “for good”to mean the end, the final chapter, the finishing touch, the last word; because in the end, everything will be good.  And if its not right yet, then we haven’t reached the end.  Until good has vanquished pain, fear, doubt, evil, it’s not over.  I imagine someday, we will come to a moment where we breathe in and say “Yes, this is what I’ve always been looking for.  This is how I knew it was supposed to be. It is well with my soul.”  And that will be the moment we know we’ve reached the summit, we’ve reached our final destination, we have run our race.

Good is our goal and our destination.  Our every action and our every hope.  Even the darkest night is just a precursor to a brighter dawn.  Everything seems so chaotic and so destructive at times, but I have to believe there is a goodness that will come.  For now, though, I’ll lace up my boots and learn to appreciate these winters.

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James Blunt

Who isn’t flawed?  Who is perfect?  Who deserves what they get?

I was watching Saturday Night Live last night and the host (Kevin…something? I don’t know what he is famous for but I liked his jacket) was telling a story about a homeless man he encountered in a Panera Bread restaurant.  It was supposed to be funny, clever, and just a little self-deprecating, but it broke my heart.  The host kept describing how dirty the man’s hands were, comparing him at one point to a monkey spreading the plague.  Unless that’s some cultural reference that I’m missing, did I really just hear a homeless person being compared to a diseased animal?  In what world is that acceptable?

When did we get to the point where we laugh at the misfortunes of others?  That shouldn’t happen at any point, but especially regarding a social problem that is so often the realm of the vulnerable and the dispossessed.  The homeless population in our nation, in any nation, are subject to such stereotyping and anger.  But how often is it their fault?  How often is it the demons of mental illness, war, or a million other circumstances outside their control?

And I started to hate how we build these walls around the imperfect and the beaten down.  Hell, we even build walls around the fortunate and the well-to-do.  We categorize and classify and judge.  We write people off as good or bad or beautiful or ugly.  We see the pain they cause, the problems these hands create and we get upset.

But aren’t we all in this together?  Aren’t we all just screwing up and starting over and screwing up and starting over?  Lather rinse and repeat.  Who is perfect?  And who deserves the life they get, good or bad?   Life happens and we do our best with what we get.  I think we all could use a little more grace.