Guest Post by Landon Saunders
The future, no one knows. As Fats Waller famously said, “One never knows, do one?”
Three years ago, no one would have predicted the two years we’ve spent in a pandemic.
Ukrainians would not have seen the extent of their suffering, the torture and inhumanity, the loss of children to missile strikes—so much beyond the reach of any words.
These experiences bring indescribable grief and unbearable tragedy and render helpless any consideration of a “joyous future.”
And yet…. And yet, we never seem to lose our desire to go forward, to rebuild, to not lose heart.
Displacement, upheaval, unimaginable grief, being mistreated, disrespected—these bring understandable anger, resentment, bitterness, even nostalgia for past “good old days.”
But it’s hard to build a future with these feelings, understandable as they are.
That’s why we reach for another set of feelings that are also part of what it means to be human, feelings that embrace our sorrows and losses while keeping alive our desires for hope and joy.
That’s simply who you are. That’s who we really are as human beings.
Let’s, quietly, be reminded of this. It’s good for our heart, good for our health, and good for our neighbor.
You’re probably familiar with this line from Bob Dylan:
He who is not busy being born is busy dying.
I think we sense what it means to be “busy dying”—to merely let life happen to us.
But what could it mean to be “busy being born”? What might that be like?
Each morning you emerge from the womb of the night, open your eyes…and it’s like you’re a child excitedly opening a gift on Christmas morning—a new day of life!
You move through the day welcoming each experience as a brand new gift. As you fully embrace even ordinary moments, you discover that there are no ordinary moments. Every moment of life is precious.
You’ve decided to not simply let the day slowly evaporate like a jar of liquid with the lid left off. Instead, you pour yourself into the day, the work, the play, the relationships.
You move through the day, relaxed, confident, present, bringing with you a certain spirit of newness, of playfulness, of joyful awareness, of energy and focus.
Of course the day will have its highs and lows. It’s problems and difficulties. There may be pain and confusion, tears as well as laughter. Disappointments, setbacks. There may be successes, or failures. But each day offers a fresh new start.
You realize you can’t always choose what the day brings, but you can decide what you bring to the day. Since this day will never come again, you don’t want to miss it.
And day by day, you are thinking more deeply about what you’re living for. Each day you are learning something new about what it means to be alive and be a person—what it means to be the one and only you.
And with that attitude, every new dawn brings a new “birth day”.
I’ll confess it: I love the movie Bridesmaids, especially the wacky “pep talk” that Megan (played by Melissa McCarthy) gives to Annie (played by Kristen Wiig) who is feeling sorry for herself because she has made such a big mess of things. (Very funny. Watch it again here if you have time: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s9prJba2vkw.)
Megan finishes her talk with this line:
“You’re your problem Annie, and you’re also your solution.”
Obviously, that’s not the most profound thing ever said about life. But there’s some wisdom to it, don’t you think?
You are your problem. You are your solution.
I have a friend who puts it like this:
“Every tub sits on its own bottom.”
Now, of course bad things happen to us. Some of it’s not fair. We get mistreated. The problems and difficulties and messes are real. It hurts. And we sometimes need help.
But somehow, it is bracing and even energizing to cut through all the noise and reasons and excuses and just say to myself: It’s my life. I’m the only one who can do anything about it. I’m the one who will suffer or benefit. So it’s finally only up to me. There’s no one else.
As someone has said (I think it was Anonymous):
“It’s not enough to love life. You have to love your particular life. This means to accept, embrace, work with, grow with, laugh with, cry with, celebrate, even overcome that one and only life that is yours. And to do it not someday but today and every day. And to know (perhaps in a quiet, intense moment): I’m the only one who can do that.”