Years ago when people asked how I fared, I would reply, “On a scale of Nirvana to Bosnia, I’m somewhere in between”. Recently I’ve reminded myself that it’s not a competition, it’s an exhibition.
But in all this platitude-tossing, I still keep in mind that no matter how lousy I feel, somewhere, someone has it worse than I do.
Two thoughts arise at this contemplation. The most stark finds a voice in that video which punched us all in the gut of the little five-year-old in the airstrike. View it HERE. No one could look at this tiny being wiping blood from his face onto the ambulance seat and not suck in their gut and shoulder on. His anguish does not make me less entitled to my pain; his suffering does not make mine irrelevant. But if he can sit in the back of that sterile place, without his parents, alone and bleeding, without wailing in grief, then perhaps I can use him as an inspiration.
People often say something like that about me. I don’t want to be an inspiration for enduring pain, though. I want to inspire people to look at themselves and see their potential. I long to wrap my arms around everyone I see and cry, “You are so wonderful! You can be outstanding! I know you will fly!” So much better to be known as someone who reached for my best self, then to be remembered as a martyr who endured pain and sorrow without complaint.
Back in college, an old classmate from high school told me that she’d always seen me as leaning against a pillow in bed surrounded by books and paper, typing away on my first novel, unable to walk but pursuing my dream of writing. I did not know how to respond to her imagery then, and I still do not. I’m not somebody’s saint; I’m not taking arrows for the team; I’m not lying down and accepting my fate. Rather I’m busting out, bursting forth, tackling the mountain trail with a vengeance.
What am I saying here? It’s early and I have not had coffee. My brain lies in fog. So draw your own conclusion today. Just don’t count me out. I’m not particularly brave, but I can be fierce, and I’m not done fighting.
It’s the nineteenth day of the thirty-second month of My Year Without Complaining. Life continues.