Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Moping or Coping?

Of the two options presented in the title to this post, which is the most common human reaction to the sky falling on one's head? Doubtless the first, because when life sucks, we usually can't help but recollect how much better it was before this one thing (or these many things) happened. The most common (and tragic) attitude is that of regret, underneath which any attempt at moving on is suffocated like a fat asthmatic upon reaching the top of Mount Everest. Regret flows from the wellsprings of pessimism, cynicism, envy, lust, and mindless ambition - the most likely people to be drowned in it are those who don't know which dreams are worth holding on to, and which are best left to pasture. To the many that assume a disappointment or loss marks the end of life, any notion of redirecting what passions they have towards another of its manifestations is often not even considered.

Consider the most inspiring stories of our time . . . consider one like Terry Fox (Canadian hero), who had every reason (upon losing his leg to bone cancer) to buckle under the oppressive weight of regret and despair, except he held on to something high above the transience of his own plight - a kind of joy routed in love and compassion that led him to sacrifice his body for the sake of others. Whatever passion he once had for basketball (and apparently he was quite good) was redirected towards a seemingly impossible athletic pursuit (in light of his disability) that led to his being immortalized in the minds and hearts of every Canadian alive . . . even to the extent of being voted second-greatest Canadian of all time.

Terry Fox's story shames me every time I reflect on it, because I've flirted with despair on a number of occasions in my as-of-yet short existence. When tendinitis first began threatening some aspects of my musical vocation (making long, sustained sessions on the guitar and piano almost unmanageable), I immediately began considering dropping off completely, looking to what other talents I might develop in order to forge for myself a career. Without a doubt, these temptations would have been met by Terry Fox with a sharp rebuke. Considering what abilities I do have in music, it would be unforgiveable for me to throw it all away because of one measily little struggle with R.S.I. The point isn't that I should paint for myself one unalterable picture of what I will become (musically or otherwise) in five or ten years, but that life is going to throw me a wrench here and there, and that this assailer can still be used as a tool if I have the guts to approach life with any degree of creativity.

I'm not trying to sit here on some high horse and teach all of you how to live. As I've already admitted (latently), I have not even come close to achieving the kind of resourceful optimism that characterized Terry Fox's life. However, I think it's well worth pointing out that, first of all, things can always get worse, no matter how badly you might think you've got it. Secondly, life isn't going to get any easier if you sit around brooding and moping like an abused dog craving a long-withheld meal. Thirdly, the passions that you might feel are being stripped from your person by the callous hands of fate, or Satan, or God (or whatever) might still be exercised effectively - you just may have to be creative in discovering how. Finally (and know that this is coming from one of the most self-obsessive, internally-focussed people you can imagine), you constitute only about .0000000000000000000000000001% of the world's population*, so consider what other causes might exist out there besides those of personal glory and deification.

And with that, I sign off once again, feeling content that I have fulfilled my Christian duty as a blogger at the greatest site in existence, West Coast Chaos, baby!

*this has not been mathematically researched, and is likely waaaaaaaaaaaay of the mark, but you get the point, I'm sure.