Do we sing?
Do we hear the drums in our hearts?
Does the sky beg us to jump?
Does the earth cry for our feet?
The swell and seep of emotions is a wonderful thing. It underscores the major points of our lives; drives home the moment. You feel like you jumped higher than the mountains. That you are heavier than lead. Wrapped in emotions small things are much magnified.
There is a twisted treachery in emotions though. Because truthfully in life things aren’t that large. Losing a job, a home, a loved one doesn’t end your life. Getting married, having a kid, getting a promotion doesn’t make everything happy ever after.
Emotions matter though. Try working in an environment where everyone is negative and only sees the downside. It wears at you. Like sandpaper on your soul. On the reverse, you can be in a really shitty situation and if everyone is cheerful and positive you won’t mind it at all. “Embrace the suck” is a military idiom for this and damn if it doesn’t work.
But your situation hasn’t changed. You are still in the suck. You still have the things that are dragging you down. I’m not saying that being positive fixes that shit. It don’t.
When the world is just mud,
When my face is just crud,
When I’m ugly, sad and short,
I lay on the ground,
Belly to the sky
And raise two fingers at the hurt.
Running up hills sucks. Gravity hates you. Your lungs hate you. Everything is slow. One second you were running along on nice flat ground and then blam! Hill!
This is when you can cringe. Can stop, go around. Give up. That’s what a negative attitude is. It is letting the rain get you down. Letting the adventure turn into defeat.
Think about that for a moment. All the horrible bad things that happen in life. THOSE ARE YOUR STORIES. No one cares about mundane days where nothing goes wrong. People barely put up with stories where everything is Mary Sue. If you are a kid who didn’t get sick, made good grades, had a nice girlfriend, played sports. Do you think anyone is going to make a movie about your life?
But if you get cancer? Fail over and over? Watch your family die? That is the seed to an amazing story. To a triumph. That is a gift that cannot be put into words.
Because a man is measured by his enemies,
A hero by the challenges she faces,
An engineer by the tasks they overcome,
You are not weighed in strengths,
The power of a soul is in its weaknesses.
So take the hill. Charge it. Make it your Omaha beach. Make it your cancer. Light it on fire and watch it burn. Throw yourself at it.
Now, before you think for a moment that I’m saying everything needs to be one adrenaline fueled surge of Die Hard explosions: Think for a moment about a hero, who just got smashed into the mud by their archenemy. They are there, bleeding, dying, failing. They know they are. The enemy is triumphant. Game fucking over.
And their fingers twitch. They don’t explode out of the ground. They don’t hop up smiling and quipping. They just flex their fingers. Barely at first. Just enough.
Because sometimes that’s the challenge. Just to move your fingers. The small step that says I’m not saying uncle.
Then the hero extends that motion. They move their hands up under themselves. They lie and cheat and steal from their soul. “Just a little bit more.” “This isn’t that hard.” “I can do this.” “I can bear this.”
Sometimes. Sometimes they even convince themselves that they bloody like it. They smile upwards. Not because they are happy, but because that happiness is a gauntlet in the face of the challenge they are up against. And that defiance makes them happy.
“I’m not going to die without trying.
I’m going to flip him off at least.
If I can move my hands, I’m not going to die laying here.
I’m going to die on my knees.
If I can straighten my back, then I’m not going to die kneeling.
I’m going to die standing.
Screw him, I’m standing. Let’s fight.”
The poem, “Do not go gentle into that good night”, “Ulysses” and many, many others address this. They call out that defiance. They praise those who go down fighting, teeth bared, snarling, smiling, and never yielding. This is why Rocky resonates with us. This is why the 300 of Greece are remembered. Because heroes are forged in trial. Because champions are smelted by pain. Because life, is in the suffering. That’s where Christ meets you, to pick you up. That’s where the angels are found. That’s where stories are made.
So the next time you get told how bad things are. The next time someone comments about the economy, or your job, or your grades, or your looks. Smile, grin, and giggle. Pump your fist in the air.
Because if life sucks, then you are in the moment, you are in the story, it is now your chance, your moment to shine. That’s why we’re made of carbon, we’re made to be under pressure. So, harden your coals up. Set yourself on fire and glow.
Like the precious diamond you are.