But not today. It's worse, with new stuff happening that makes the expression, "This can't be good" sound positively Pollyannish. I won't describe it, 'cause just talking about that stuff makes me puke.
It's hard to stay out of the dark rooms of loneliness and despair, especially in this season. Turn on the TV and everyone's singing and shopping and...ugh...eating.
Uh, pardon me, I'mm be right baaaccckkk.....
There. Wow. Yuck.
Where was I...oh, right. How do you keep an even keel when you're in the vortex, circling the drain?
It's actually not hard. It jut involves some agility, in jumping from one defining paradigm to another, all the way to The End Of The Trail.
I think we all live our lives after a pattern; a pattern formed by relationship and media. We see people we admire, characters we admire, and we look to build a framework in our lives that allows a direct comparison, at least in our hearts.
No one lives a completely original life; at least, almost no one. Jesus, well, yeah. He did.
But for the rest of us there's John Wayne and Wonder Woman and Weird Uncle Ray, who got lost in the 60s and never quite found his way out. These are the names and contexts against which we measure ourselves.
And that is no bad thing, because left to ourselves, we can find definition impossible. It's like doing a diving exercise in a dark pool...which way is up?
I've run through a number of paradigms, from the wisecracking Butch and Sundance to the steely-eyed John Wayne to the inscrutable Katsumoto in The Last Samurai (and I bear more than a passing resemblance to Ken Watanabe).
But in the end...for it must surely come soon, given the symptoms, I've circled back to the paradigm that awaits at The End Of The Trail.
Butch and Sundance died in a hail of Bolivian bullet (or did they..?), The Duke rode off into the sunset, and Lord Katsumoto met the honourable death he craved in a hopeless cavalry charge.
And I go on. Shorn of any nobility (I did my best...sometimes), bereft of real charity (I gave at the office and at home, but a lot of the time I was looking out for me), and absent any spiritual depth (I thought for a long time that Judas had a pet lion, hence, 'Lion of Judah'), I'm a pretty normal screwup, an eightball, a square peg kicking and screaming against the round hole.
And that is precisely what God loves.
In the demolition of my Potemkin villages, I've found truth, and joy, and Love.
When I stopped watching movies, I could see God's hand, patiently waiting to take me the rest of the way on His Shoulder.
The view from up here, it's pretty good.
Music from Andrew Peterson, with You'll Find Your Way.
Thanks to Carol Ashby, Blessed Are The Pure Of Heart is back on Kindle, and will be available in paperback soon.
Friends are everything. I couldn't have done it.