A few quotes:
“From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
“Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.”
― Lao Tzu
“The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.”
― Mahatma Gandhi, All Men are Brothers: Autobiographical Reflections
“Courage isn’t having the strength to go on – it is going on when you don’t have strength.”
― Napoleon Bonaparte
There is great wisdom in each of these proverbs; however, it’s this last one I find eminently relevant.
Probably there is not one of us who hasn’t at one time felt the crushing blow of failing health, broken relationships, dreams that refuse to be caught, or simply that turmoil that coincides with being a human that feels things.
We have the gratuitous luxury of not knowing what will happen each day after we wake. If I were to count my blessings — which, isn’t such a bad idea, in fact — I would count premonition dysfunction as a biggie. I don’t know want to know. Ever. Good or bad, I want to be surprised; that way I can remain always in a state of hopeful anticipation.
Here I impart my own proverb: Hope is like putting on a bullet-proof vest. It won’t keep you from incurring the bullets, but it could save your life.
Trials force us to look ourselves in the eye, something I don’t think we do often enough; we’re much too busy looking everyone else in the eye, to stop and take a moment to reflect on our own state of being. And if we do do this — yes, I heard that that, too — it’s usually with a deprecating glower or critical glance. Go out into the streets; look to the left, and there you will find an abundance of arrogance. Look to the right, and you encounter copious insecurity. But between these juxtapositions there will be a small outlet, a thin path most people will overlook; but it is there you will find the enigmas. You’ll recognize them by their smiles; that’s where life’s secrets are hidden or revealed. Mine are.
But I don’t admit lineage among this group; even someone like me, assiduously assessing my most minute thoughts and actions, can become impervious to how life is affecting me, how it’s shaping this malleable soul. But as I’ve already mentioned, trials force us to; they leave no other options. It’s as if a brood of obnoxious relatives suddenly pull up to the curb of your residence, slam down the parking break, attach “the boot,” and refuse to be on their way until you have fed, washed, and reconciled yourself to the fact that they exist, even if you preferred they didn’t. In short: it sucks.
But — and it is a very BIG but; think Latina — it is in confronting your trials that you are given the opportunity to not only show the measure of your strength, but grow that strength and persevere. Think of yourself as a budding flower: you need certain things to thrive, yes? Water, sunlight, the photosynthesis process, soil rich in nutrients. And at first your survival is tenuous; you must be tended to with protective hands and a watchful eye; but at a certain point those hands actually hinder your growth, start to choke your vitality. It’s imperative that you have vacillating temperatures to bear up under. And in doing so, you will either crumple and fade, or you will find a way to endure, to survive, stretching and elongating your roots, claw your way itinerant through oblique terrain, until you’ve located a source capable of saving you. When you do, if you can find a way to hang on, cast your grip — you will more than likely have a newfound understanding and respect — a healthy respect — for the person you arrived to. This is a very good thing, but not so easy in the moment.
An acquaintance of mine, a very bright, thoughtful young lady, brought to my attention a compelling thought placed upon her heart. As I read her e-mail this morning — this in response to my recent status update regarding my health — I was both heartened that gifts like hers exist, especially in one so young, and also I was struck by an impulsion of my own, one I must share with her in return. You see, she had encouraged me to “not be blinded by my current condition, to stay strong.” Before emailing her back, I decided I needed to think about this. And so I considered strength and courage, and what both mean to me.
In the end, I thanked her for sharing her heart with me, as well as the encouragement, and then left her with these words: “I urge you only to be cautious of using the words “stay strong” to one undergoing unimaginable pain, and also to be careful of misinterpreting the denial of struggle and sorrow for strength. Weakness does not rest in tears or pleas for help. My continuing to ask for prayer is how I manage to stay strong. Rather than sink into a depression — which, has been tempting on occasion — I seek the comfort of those who know me, love me, and support me during what has, most assuredly, been the most frustratingly arduous ordeal I have ever endured. Though I cannot know for certain when and if my pain will ever come to a happy conclusion, each day I get up, drink my coffee, work on my novel, exercise, and spend time with my loved ones. I am living! Praise be to God for this.”
I have two feet. So do you I would imagine. My left foot is just slightly larger than my right. Finding shoes . . . oh, it’s not always fun, you see; because they don’t always fit. And while it would certainly be conducive to my comfort, shoe stores do not offer their customers a perfectly sized pair of shoes — they offer one size, to fit both feet.
You and I, we are not made of the same stuff. If we think of ourselves as continually bubbling cauldrons, where new ingredients are tossed in at each turn life brings us to, we can visualize how different we are from another. Though we each are born with a heart, soul, and mind, there are countless scents and flavors to consider. Depending on how these minutia have molded you, will determine how you taste life. And consequently how you swallow it and digest it. For someone to offer words or suggestions, or even worse, implications that suggest that weakness or self-pity, to another going through an experience that you yourself have yet to experience — and like I said, even then it remains a moot-point — is to court arrogance and levitate toward supremacy. I am not omniscient. I do not know how you feel pain. I do not know you cope. I only know how I do those things, and truly, this is the only person I am accountable to, under God.
So, all this to say, perhaps before you offer words, offer your arms first. A hug is incredibly special you see . . . with it, you speak softly, but are heard distinctly. A person, much like uncooked food, must be prepped before attempting to grill or bake it. If you expect a steak, chicken, or a piece of fish to turn out well and flavorful without first having taken the time to season it, you will only succeed in yielding a lackluster piece of meat, worthy only to the home’s family pet.
Words . . . they. are. so. powerful. What you say with your mouth will always, every single time, leave an impression on the human heart. You are not so much what you eat, but what you say and do. Words: be wise with them.
And to all of you, I wish you a wonderful weekend,