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by G.E. Shuman
The older I get, the plainer it seems to me that nearly everything in life can be seen in more than one way. Almost every circumstance can be viewed and interpreted as either a blessing or a curse. Truthfully, some things are probably both. (Such is my experience in raising teenagers.) “The rain falls on the just and the unjust,” as the Bible says. That’s a good thing if you have crops to water, but not so much if you’re on your way to the beach. In both cases, one thing is for sure. Someone’s gonna get wet. Also, truthfully, some people really do seem to be eternal optimists about such things, and others always have to view that old glass as half empty. I’m not at all sure why that is so. I’m just sure that the eternal optimists irritate the daylights out of me sometimes, even as I envy them.
Albert Einstein was once quoted as saying: “We must accept the fact that either nothing is a miracle, or everything is a miracle.” I’m not even sure which side of the miracle-fence ol’ Al was on, but I suspect that he might just have wondered if this big universe could really have popped (or banged) into being by accident. In any case, as you may have surmised, my vote is for everything being a miracle. I also do my best to view life positively, at least when it’s convenient to do so. The alternative is, as proposed by Lemony Snicket, a series of unfortunate events.
The very existence of life itself, to me, is miraculous. Just the simple fact, and it is a fact that really isn’t simple at all, that we are even here, is pretty amazing. The further fact that we humans, as do no other life forms on our planet, KNOW that we are alive, even though, with that, we also have to know that we will die, is another miracle. (That is the messy down side to sentiently observing the world, I guess.) What I have observed, in my many years of observing and cogitating, so far, is that life seems to be a combination of both good times and dire inevitabilities; filled with hope and pleasure, and also with fear and pain. Life is wonderful, but it is messy, and short, and sometimes hard. For some, it is extremely short, and profoundly hard.
Appreciating the miracle that is life depends entirely on our attitude toward our own situation. Some people are quite able to display impatience and dissatisfaction, no matter how good things are going for them. An elderly friend of mine would have said that those folks “would complain if they were being hung with a new rope.” One owner of a brand new house or car, or other thing, may easily tire of it, (this is called ‘when the new wears off’) while some other owner of a lesser thing may be happy with and thankful for what he has. Some folks, even if their pockets are full, always seem to find the dark cloud surrounding that silver lining, complaining all the way to the bank. Other people, those eternal optimists, seem to always have smiles on their faces, no matter what. For one person a hangnail can bring depression and distress, while serious disease may not discourage another. Our existence is not perfect, to be sure. Bad things do happen during the miracle. I believe that some people simply choose to be happy, anyway.
In all honesty, the “germ of an idea” for this column came to me in the form of a TV commercial, just last night. The brilliantly-written ad was for a brand of diapers, and poignantly featured a beautiful newborn baby in the process of getting her diaper changed by her mom. The narrator in the ad said few words. Some of those words were these: “Sometimes... miracles get messy.” And so it is with life.
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