I was reading a book today (which I am about halfway done with) from an author who I happen to be fond of and who writes thought-provoking and compassionate nonfiction, and the book itself made a comment about adversity that reminded me of my own life and some of my own writing and a great deal of the purpose and meaning that I find in the experiences of life. The section of the book I was reading talked about something called adverse growth, where struggles make one a better person. As I was reading that particular passage of the book, I pondered on how little I present that aspect of life in my writing, which might tend to make things appear a bit imbalanced for those who only know me from my writings and not from getting to see me in person.
Today, rather than complain or muse about difficulty, I would like to muse about the results of it, which I think may sometimes get insufficient attention. There is a special beauty that springs from difficulty. We all have dreams of restoration, even if we do not know what is being restored, but the hope is something that helps keep us open to love and happiness. If we can visualize a better future, we can keep ourselves from being too cynical to find it and appreciate it when it begins to come. A smile and a sense of humor about life’s absurdity can help keep us young and help us from being too damaged from the wounds and scars that we inevitably acquire in life.
Let us not forget that these wounds can be attractive in the right circumstances. Life is all the more humorous for all of the experiences that we face, and all the more beautiful when one can see a desert bloom. Beauty is not only in the blooms but also in the context. When what seems in our minds to be so fragile can endure in the harshest of circumstances, we can appreciate it all the more for its strength, even if that strength is not always visible from the outside. In life, much of what happens to us makes us better people, but it does not always immediately show itself on the outside. When we can see people comfortable with who they are, and open to the experiences that life provides and also to the people that one meets, open to love and happiness, then we can better appreciate the lives that we live.
Anyone with any kind of appreciation for the absurdity of life can understand that God clearly does not expect us to take it entirely seriously. After all, sometimes life is like a rose held in the mouth of a skunk. I happen to love skunks, but not everyone does. That said, if a skunk can hold on to its longings for “mon Fifi,” then all of us have reason to hope. A man with no hands and legs wrote a book where he described his own longings, and his own marriage with a beautiful and mature young woman who loved him despite his obvious flaws. Still, his hope and confidence were surely attractive. If such a man can hope, what room is there for despair for any of us? Surely there is enough desert in this world to provide the background for a gorgeous Negev bloom. For are we not all blooms in the wilderness, after all? Let us not bloom in vain, for we were made to help this world be a brighter and more beautiful place, little by little.