Without the dark, there can be no light
When I was a kid, I remember extended periods of mind-numbing boredom interspersed with moments of sheer jubilation. There didn’t seem to be a lot of in-between moments, which, I suppose speaks to the all-or-nothing ethos of childhood.
It’s why small children can’t jog or pace themselves – they either sprint a million miles an hour or walk slowly, and why kids’ palates can tolerate the type of saccharine sweetness I just can’t handle at my advanced age, although I’ll have you know my sweet tooth has gotten a certain amount of refinement during the pandemic lockdown.
That being said, it occurs to me that shades of grey are what makes the world go round, and as we get older and older those levels of grey diversify further, as we become the people we were meant to become. I used to think I would make an excellent politician, but I fear that I don’t think I have the right makeup to compromise my values in the name of maintaining power.
That’s just one of the compromises I’m not willing to make in the interest of making a living. I suppose there are others, but that’s the clearest and most concise solution I can use to make my point.
As I age further and further, it becomes increasingly clear to me that I am what I am, and no matter how much I change – and I have changed a lot of my behaviours in the interests of maturity in the last decade – I realize more and more how I’m just fundamentally me, for better or for worse.
And lately, there’s been a lot of worse. For many, many people. I know I’m not alone, but that’s not the point of this screed.
Not by any stretch. No, this screed, or manifesto, or unwanted monologue, or whatever you wanna call it, is designed to show that the light is what makes the darkness worthwhile, or to put it another way, I have come to appreciate the hard stuff and the rough points of life because it makes weeks like this one, with its joyous excitement (Father’s Day, my son’s birthday) so much more special.
Despite momentary hiccups, the relentless optimism of the summer is something that there is just no substitute for, and it’s beholden upon us to enjoy it for every moment. It’s like the old parable about the angel and the devil. As the angel lay dying, the devil happened upon him and helped him, much to the angel’s surprise.
“Why are you helping me?” the angel asked. The devil, to the angel’s surprise, only smiled wanly and set to helping the dying angel. As he did so, he whispered. “I depend on your existence for mine. Without you, there can be no me.”
Without hard times, without misery, without shared trauma, we cannot properly come to embrace the happiness of a sunny day in June with little responsibility, and even less on the agenda.
Best part? Days like this one are welcome precisely because they feel like they are unending. The endless optimism of a warm, sunny day followed by a cool, breezy night in the summer is absolutely priceless. There is nothing that feels the way that can make you feel.
I gotta bottle that memory, put it on the shelf and pull it out in mid-February, when winter’s icy grip is at its strongest and my psyche is at its most tenuous. I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels that way. That would be awesome!
At 43, I have a pretty good idea about who I am. I have many, many character flaws, and I have hundreds more weaknesses than I have strengths, and I think that anybody who pretends otherwise is fooling themselves.
But as the days go on, and I grow more and more comfortable in my skin and in who I am – that is still a work in progress, and I believe that will be the case until I leave this mortal coil.
But hot damn if the wonder of summer hasn’t recharged my battery just a little bit and allowed me to get back in touch with who I am, and moreover, who I want to be.
In career news, I’m back writing for the media again, covering the Kahnawake community and working for Iori:wase, (Kahnawake News) a paper owned by my old university classmate and all-around good guy Greg Horn and another old friend – and award-winning colleague --- Jordan Standup. A literal dream team, at the risk of bragging. Check us all out at www.kahnawakenews.com. I'm still training and teaching and taking clients, but I'm doing this also. Looking forward to all the challenges!
A healthy dose of perspective is important every so often. I got some this week. Now…the question is: how do I hang on to it?
Pandemic viewing guide:
In the grand scheme of things, it’s going to be a long, long time before life returns to normal, so I’ll leave a tidbit here on posts every so often.
This week’s entry: Dirty Money, the Netflix documentary series produced by Alex Gibney, which examines frauds and corporate grift by companies and individuals, including individual episodes highlighting the financial misdeeds and malfeasance of Donald Trump and his son-in-law Jared Kushner. It’s a fun hate-watch, and other episodes dedicated to the Volkswagen emissions fraud and the great maple syrup robbery right here in Quebec are also a delight.
Two seasons (2019,2020)