Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Living the dream

A quick sketch of two friends:

One is the father of two beautiful twin children and the husband to an amazing woman. He owns his own business, is his own boss, in a recession-proof industry. His family has just moved into an upscale house on a bluff overlooking the Willamette River. My friend is riding high on the cresting wave of life.

Well, I've been there.

My other friend is going through a divorce (his second) and is financially devastated as a result. He has a son from his first marriage and a beautiful, loving daughter from his second. He is doing his best, also, to care for an elderly parent who is starting to show signs of being unable to care for herself. My friend is near the bottom of a deep trough in the sea of life.

I've been there, too.

If there is one thing of which we can be sure as our little ships make their way across this vast ocean toward the Unknown Shore, it is that the voyage is going to have its ups and downs.

But, so often, we lose that perspective, don't we? Especially in our self-absorbed, ego-centric Western culture. That's why we hear about young, successful people in perfect health blowing their minds with drugs or succumbing to angst and despair and committing that final selfish act of retribution on the people who dared to love them.

Does it not suggest that there might be something fundamentally wrong with our society?

Smiling homeless woman in Ouagadougou, nursing two children

Other cultures seem less prone to this extravagance. That is why we see photographs of indigent seemingly desparate people smiling in spite of their poverty. Could it be that the further we are from the daily struggle for survival, the more inclined we are to partake in the luxury of angst?

Well, returning again to my two friends, I've had conversations with each of them about their current existential states. These are two men in very different circumstances, at very different points on the up-down sine wave of life.

But, you know what? Each of them, when commenting about his current condition, has given me the same answer. That answer? "Well, Dade, you know... I just got really lucky."

Myself and nephew Gino


Eclectic Dilettante said...

In all my travels, the happiest people I've seen are the Balinese. Most don't have running water or electricity. But they're quick with a smile and a wave and they will help a stranger gladly.

Sometimes I think, as a society in general, this irrational need for the latest gadget is the source of our greatest misery. But hey, what do I know.

Spring Thunder's Blog said...

Wild is better.