We were all disappointed with how things turned out in our lives, each for his own reason. Some thought the choices they made in life made all the difference, that they had made the wrong ones, made wrong turns, and spoiled life thereby. It made sense, because decisions accumulate like a residue or like a tar, like a thick paste, over the agent and leaves him stuck in a certain groove from those decisions on out. It’s hard to transform when the very fibers of your body have been trained and habituated to just this route of accomplishment, just this way of managing things. Some thought differently about their lives and about what went into composing them, feeling, instead of decisions and spells of willfulness, that fate and its sweeping of them to and fro had decided their course. Mistakes take on a different color and texture in this case, as they turn out to be mistakes of life, as it were, and not simply mistakes of an agent. Life itself has made a wrong turn, has grown askew or has wilted into an insignificant fragment of itself. Disappointment takes on a different character in this case, too: it is disappointment not with a portion of the scheme of things but with the scheme of things itself; disappointment takes on a cast of the irrecoverable, unmitigable, and cannot be transformed, by whatever amount of heavy lifting, into its opposite, satisfaction and affirmation. Some could not decide for themselves which types of injustices they suffered, and simply complained that they were too many and too harsh, too many and too severe to bear. These fared best of all in their way, as they could change their response to their troubles depending on their mood, so that when they were not feeling up to transforming their lives, they could blame life’s indifference, and when they felt more empowered and surer of their forces, they could bring in the reigns and try as hard as they might to take a different route to their glory. But, at bottom, it was all the same, whatever conception of it we were moved into taking: disappointment, a growing, in fact sedimented, long-sedimented sense that life had not turned out the best for us.
The wisest among us, however, those for whom the things of life could never really be so simple and straightforward, what did we do? We could not complain with the same excuses as our comrades, not even when moods of powerlessness struck us, because we were privy to how our powers could be harnessed, could be employed in the direction of our growth and proper development. But neither could we give these powers full dominion over our lives, and feel that no matter how bad things have become, we may always pick ourselves up and start anew. Both horns of the conception of what had caused our disappointment with our lives dismantled, we took a new course altogether, a course altogether removed from the war within ourselves between either assenting to our (total) vulnerability or to our (again, total) invulnerability. It was a course rooted in a primal gratitude, rather than a course expressing any dissatisfaction with life for whatever reason, whether for our own lack of trying or for life’s curses, a gratitude for life in its givenness, in its simple being or manisfestness, a gratitude for there being anything, anything at all, rather than nothing and darkness and oblivion. How did we reform this bedrock comportment towards life, our dissatisfaction into gratitude, when the dissatisfaction is equiprimordial with the gratitude? What miracle had to erupt into our lives in order for us to leave behind this our endowment of being buffeted by life as we must? Was it a miracle, or was it simply this, that we were transformed, perhaps by life itself, because of some wish or intention of life itself? We–converted, in the most significant sense of that word? We sort of fell or stumbled into it, as we had before, supposedly, stumbled away or fallen from grace. We were suddenly–or after a long time, it only seemed to occur suddenly–afflicted by a grace of the opposite sort than we were accustomed to, and recognized the benefits of living, despite its failures and disappointments, living at all and taking a certain pride in life. Life itself has given us access to seeing life differently, to living life differently. WE, the wise among us, at least, are doorways to those still living here on earth to enter into the promise of life, to enter into the possibility of life’s having any promise.
The wisest among us. For us the road is easy, even this road less traveled, it comes to us as naturally as our next step or our next breath. We are at home in this newfound world of ours, as though we were born there and it is our motherland, we breathe it as our most hospitable atmosphere, the pleasure of simply living. The rest of us–the many-too-many, the great and heavy majority–they–are disappointed, continue to be fraught with a sense that life could be more, could be better, could be more fulfilling or significant. What do we wise ones do, what could we do, for them, for these our friends and neighbors, for the throngs surrounding us on all sides asking us for a taste, if not a share or a portion, of our joy, of this joy we enjoy so thoroughly? We remain doorways…open or shut–we remain doorways, and invite these others, at any time of their hard lives, to join us and feel the breath of lightness and gaiety come over them. We see how hungry they are, how they are starving after this joy more than for any food, how in need they are of this nourishment–which is plentiful, by the way. Whether they take this passageway, whether they turn the knob of our doors, whether they even knock at them…that is an altogether different story. Whatever they do, slam it shut, run away from its winds when it opens, we–we–are satisfied with life, even with these lives joining us on this earth, a hemisphere abutting our hemisphere, a clime among climes, a door among doors.
This is amazing
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Thank you, K.G. This piece has thoughts that will not leave me. I hope your days have had joy.