A quote from Helen Thomas and I found it utterly beautiful.
“in an unconscious way as I grew older I came to realize that everything that is a part of life is inevitable to it, and must therefore be good. I could not be borne high upon the crest of ecstasy and joy unless I also know the dreadful depths of the trough of the great waves of life. I could not be irradiated by such love without being swept by the shadow of despair. The rich teeming earth from which all beauty comes is fed with decay; out of the sweat and labor of men grows the corn. We are born to die; if death were not, life would not be either. Pain and weakness and evil, as well as strength and passion and health, are part of the beautiful pattern of life, and as I grew up I learned that life is richer and fuller and finer the more you can understand, not only in your brain and intellect but in your very being, that you must accept it all; without bitterness the agony, without complacency the joy.”
Soldiers are often said to have an inability to connect with people, or to be on a different channel than those around. I don’t know about this. However, the last sentence of this quote struck me. The rest of it I’ve come to my own realizations in the past, noting the necessary valleys in life that also create the peaks. However, the last sentence, where she writes ‘without complacency’, that part struck a chord within me.
This is unknown to a lot of civilians, or those not touched by or witness to death. It is a caricature of cancer survivors in movies that they become enlightened beings that, as Warren Zevon says, ‘enjoy every sandwich’. Perhaps, I don’t know. I do not meet a lot of cancer survivors. I do know myself. Before Iraq I collected moments, times of peace, tranquility, and beauty. I would pull over on the side of the highway simply because the sun was setting the sky and I wanted to enjoy it. At times I’ve done this while running late for work. I did not want it said on my death bed that I gave prominence to work over a sunset. Which would we trade for what when lying on our respective death beds?
I am no enlightened saint. Most days I fail to appreciate the great gift of life that I have. Most moments of opportunity slip me by. Yet sometimes I do give pause and am a ‘being’. Sometimes, but not all.
Right now I put down my computer to pet the three tiny little kittens, barely big enough to walk. Earlier I simply enjoyed a cup of tea. There are things in life that I cannot let pass without giving it my full attention. What sort of life would it be if I did not? The soft lips of a recent date, for example. Is this not the sort of thing that makes life worth living? There are other things, to be sure, and I’m sure there are things in life that gives meaning to one’s philosophical stance. Yet we are sensate creatures that thrive on the senses. What fragrance fills the room right now? What sounds in a symphony? What soft touch of the lips and neck of a woman? What taste of a well prepared meal? All these things and more… they are all loves of mine. I appreciate them. I cultivate them. And in turn I think that they deepen me.