Monday, March 5, 2012

Asking the Right Questions

As the days have passed, I have continued to struggle, sinking back again and again into the viper filled pit.  I knew I was failing Jack, and if seen from what I believe would be his perspective, failing myself.  Then as a last resort I fell back on what I thought was a clichéd cop out – I asked myself what he would do with all this anger.  As I rolled my eyes at the thought of him in the midst of such a struggle in the first place, another question popped into my head.  

But why wouldn't he find himself in the midst of such a struggle?  Everyone has those moments when they’re so filled with anger over something they feel like they are going to explode.  Even if rare to the point of practical non-existence everyone knows on some level what that feels like.  Don’t they?  Though something I took for granted as just a part of the business of being human, I now began to wonder.  Was it really?

Lying back on my bed, I started thinking through all my memories of Jack, of the time we spent together.  I laughed and cried alternately, as one wonderful memory after another flooded through me until I realized what I was seeing.  Nothing but wonderful memories.  Happy memories.  Carefree memories even against the backdrop of an illness he was at the same time fighting against with all his might.  I suppose it’s natural to focus on the good times we had with someone when we’ve just lost them, yet some of the bad times, fights, flaws couldn’t help but sneak in.  Right?  So where were they? 

I don’t intend to suggest Jack was perfect.  He was simply a man who saw a need whether that of another or one within himself, and acted on it.   And that was where I began to find my answer, my remedy to the anger that had possessed me from the moment he left this world.  I was letting the experience take control of me, bend me anyway it chose.  I was viewing this whole thing as something that was happening to me. 

It was then I no longer saw my question as a cliché.  Because I suddenly knew what Jack would have done.  I knew why he wouldn’t have found himself in the abyss I couldn’t seem to climb out of.  When things happened to him, around him, to others he loved, he didn’t take the easy way out.  Instead of acting like a tantruming child, repeating “It’s not fair,” over and over, he would have responded. 

He would have found a way to make sense of it somehow, to learn something from it, then assimilated this new understanding into the way he lived his life.  The lesson incorporated, it would have become a subtle addition to that which he unknowingly taught the rest of us, modeled for us on a daily basis. It was all about how to construct a life in which just by living you made things better.   Better for someone else, a relative, a friend, a stranger, better for the world, better for yourself by changing something in need of changing or seeing something through different eyes.  And as simple as it sons defined through meaning no matter what circumstance we might find ourselves in.

As I reach this point in my writing I feel the fury I have allowed to violate my very being starting to give way.   While it may not be automatic to me as it was to him, as I reach for that place he so naturally existed in, striving to figure out how I might turn intention to learn from him into the act of change, I find the anger is letting go.  It’s not gone entirely, I won’t lie.  

But my breathing has eased and I see the fog beginning to lift.  Because I have realized it’s not about what happens to you.  It’s not even about the cerebral activity of reflecting on what you may have learned from a situation.  It’s about your response, what you do about it, how you use it to learn something about yourself and find some positive action that can result from even what may appear at first to be the ultimate tragedy.  It’s about making something even just a little better for someone else. 

I know even as I reread what I have written, I have stooped to more clichés, but they work.  The real question to answer was never “Why do bad things happen to good people?” because in this world at least, that question can never be truly answered.  It can only serve as a prompt for a philosophical debate.  

The real questions that we must answer as we go through this life when faced with situations that seem insurmountable are “What will I do about it?  How will I respond to this?”  For me, today, I will work to take all he gave me, showed me, taught me, and use it to try to figure out where change should begin.

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