Friday, June 30, 2006

Watch This Space

Last night, I was watching an old episode of The West Wing, one from the fourth season. For fans of the show, it's the episode where C.J. goes to Dayton for her high school reunion, but winds up being confronted with the stark reality of her father's descent into Alzheimer's. She also connects with an old classmate, a former bad boy who's cleaned up quite nicely, and he offers her a bit of comfort along with some rather pithy philosophy.

"For me," he says, "the best day is always the next day. It's like those blank billboards that say 'watch this space.' There's always something better coming."

Well. Hearing that yesterday, after spending a good part of the afternoon with a friend whose brillant son committed suicide four months ago, really didn't cut it for me. Hearing that after getting a phone call from my neighbor to tell me his already frail 79-year old wife fell and broke her hip today and is awaiting surgery tomorrow, didn't really ring true with me. Hearing that after reading some of the things I read in the news yesterday morning - heck, I won't even go there.

I wish there was "always something better coming." The stark reality, cute guy philosophy or not, is that the "something" could just as easily be death, or disease, or some other destruction.The big question for all of us is how to deal with the uncertainty that is the essence of life.

I have a friend whose faith in God enables her to make sense of the incomprehensible. I have another friend who swears by the power of meditation and visualization to deal with life's vicissitudes. I also know people who rely on chemicals, both legal and otherwise, to anesthetize them to life's pain. There are no definite answers to this most indefinite of dilemmas.

I try to maintain a guarded optimism about life. Admittedly, some days are more difficult than others, and I fear I have recently succumbed to a bout of old fashioned pessimism. I realize that I've been extremely lucky in my own journey, and though I've had sorrows and disappointments, none were out of the bounds of expected occurrences. I know bad things happen to good people, but I know good things happen too.

So I remain realistic and pragmatic, but hopeful. I'll keep watching the space, but I'll keep an eye on my back at the same time, just for good measure.


Blogger deirdre said...

I always feel that things could be worse, but they're not, not right now. The thing that helps me stay balanced with the whole good/bad of life is that I've seen people do tremendously kind things. When my sister got sick a whole town stepped in to take care of her. And she'd just moved there a few months earlier. I'll write someday, on my blog, about that town. It keeps me from pessimism, helps balance out the ugliness and sadness of life. Yesterday was a tough one for you - your heart needs a little rest and TLC. I'm sending a hug.

Blogger Star said...

I'm going down that same road trying to find balance. I remember quite well the episode you watched tonight and it hits home in a big way for me with my own father right now.

As you said yesterday, "I wonder why the God I profess to believe in would allow..." I have thought that very thing many times in the last year. And in the last few months I have abandoned Something I've leaned on all my life in favor of a wider view, one that encompasses more possibilities. This hasn't meant throwing the gates wide open to allow in all the temptations that the media sets before us, but a gradual unfolding of my heart as it emerges from the 'shoulds' by which I have willingly lived my life.

I guess I need more than the narrow life I was allowing myself to lead. I need moments of vibrance and joy; I need to feel that the decisions I make have been weighed by me and not dictated by Another. And it's scary; there has never been a time (until these last months) when I didn't feel His presence. I keep hoping that when the 'kinder, gentler' me takes hold it will lead me back to Someone I feel I can trust more, depend on, respect, but I'm not feeling it now...maybe not ever.

For me, this means thinking about the future but living life now. From early childhood I have tried to be mature beyond my years; if I were to be on my deathbed at this moment, I would have a lot of regrets about my choices. Memories aren't made in wearing a path between work and the walls of my home, feeling tense, worried about the future and never 'good enough.' They are made from cultivating friendships, experiencing the beauty of nature beyond my back yard, learning to breathe deeply, smile and laugh.

You have such a caring heart, Becca. I'm sure that comes through to your friends as you hug them when they're down and to your neighbor when he has more to deal with than he should. I want to fill myself with some of the wonderful qualities that I see in you here as you share with us. You give me hope that I can do more than just fend off life with a stick. Know that you are not isolated in your feelings, that others feel these same doubts and frustrations.

Wishing you a weekend of mental and spiritual refreshment.

Blogger paris parfait said...

Beautiful, thoughtful post, Becca! Lots to think about. And I'm an optimist. :) Better days ahead; I have faith.

Blogger jzr said...

I've always been one who has watched for what comes next. Would it be good, bad or indifferent? I always had Plan B and also plan C at the ready, just in case Plan A didn't cut it.

After too many years of watching and waiting, I find it exhausting and stifling. It seems that whenever I anticipate that something bad might happen it usually does. Right now I have no plan at the ready. Whatever is to be, will be and there is darn little I can do to stop it. So now I can smile and laugh with all of my heart ... when I cry, out of grief or dissapointment, I cry with all my heart. Best of all, I find that my fear is gone.

One of the best words I have learned is acceptance ... I accept that my mother, who has lung cancer is going to die. I accept that I will die and I accept that in the meantime there will be some rough patches ahead. That doesn't mean that I like that those things will happen. I don't. But what can I do to change it all? Nothing.

Things will be better ... things will be worse ... and no matter how hard we try to be ready for them, the good and the bad will happen and all the preparation we go through will not make any difference at all.

You are going through a rough patch right now, Becca. I believe that we can find good things in every aweful thing that happens if we choose to look for them. I hope those things will make themselves evident to you.

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