A Big Hard World
From childhood’s hour I have not been
As others were; I have not seen
As others saw; I could not bring
My passions from a common spring. – Edgar Allen Poe, “Alone”, fragment
Not every day is bright. Not every moment makes you smile. Not every heart swells with joy.
This isn’t a confession.
This is testimony.
To be alone is not to be lonely.
This moment is the world whispering that all is well, and all is well, and all is very well.
To celebrate is to welcome the world. To sing with joy is to bring one in line with the angels. To be with friends and family makes one real.
To be alone – to live inside one’s head, to see out one’s eyes, to seek neither joy nor sadness, that is peace. To listen and hear nothing is to be alive in the moment.
It may well be a big hard sun, beating on the big people, in a big hard world. It is also a lovely, life-giving, warmth producing, sun. It shines on the righteous and unrighteous alike. And this world is both hard and beautiful, brutal and gentle, filled with the best and worst humanity has to offer. To live with the understanding, to see and hear it all and know it is loved just as it is, but also as it all could be – this is the vision of the prophets. To weep with those who mourn, so that mourning may not become a way of life; to work for justice for the murdered innocent and the murderer, loving both and holding both in your heart; to cry with the families of the slain, but also with the killer in his prison cell; to sit with the destitute, doing what one can, but also to befriend yet demand more from the wealthy; to keep one’s doors open to thieves, and beggars, and whores, and drunks, and celebrities, and the saintly, and the powerful, and the nameless: This is how to live as if living makes a difference.
It is to live as if neither joy nor sadness defines existence. It is to love without principle or care. It is to laugh at every slight, to ignore every slander, and to refuse to allow the joyful and happy to capture you in their far-too-bright snare, because you are neither the property of others, nor a rod by which any should measure their lives. You are . . . you.
Which is why not every day is bright. Not every moment makes you smile. And your heart doesn’t swell with joy at every moment. Because you are you. Loved, redeemed, and living all of it, each moment, as fully as possible. And whether the end comes sooner or decades later, you can believe you were always . . . you. And that might make all the difference in this big hard world.