Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Juggling Lesson

Recently I have been contemplating why it is that so often we try to do everything at once. We go through life juggling the balls of our lives, terrified lest we drop one and lose complete control. Too often, however, we willingly jump from throwing one ball up and down to the advanced twisting and twirling fiery balls that threaten to burn us if we slip up. What we fail to realize comes in two parts. First, we cannot do it all. No man can. Second, nothing comes easily without practice. We cannot expect to decide on a plan and immediately follow through on it without a glitch.
Delving into the first point, we must discover for ourselves the breadth and depth of our abilities. On the one hand, we should take ourselves out of our "safety zone" and allow ourselves to grow. On the other hand, while we should be there to help others, we cannot allow this aid to others to severely detriment our own persons. If we are devoting all of our time to everyone else's needs, we have no time to devote to ourselves, whereby we grow more and more stressed and eventually become weaker and weaker and less able to help ourselves, let alone anyone else. We must remember, therefore, to find that balance in our lives, wherein we give of ourselves in sacrifice for others, yet do not fail to care for ourselves as well.
Continuing on to the second point, we must develop patience and endurance. If you want to learn how to ice skate, you must practice. It doesn't take much to learn how to keep from slipping on the ice, but to truly skate and perform all of the fancy tricks, it takes constant practice and perseverance. Likewise, anything we attempt in our lives, whether small or large, in order to do it well and consistently, we must practice. We cannot jump from one thing to several, like going from one ball to multiple balls. We should develop and grow and learn to take on more, yet we cannot expect to do it all at once. We must, rather, choose one specific place to start. Once this chosen ball is well on its way to perfection, another and then another ball may be added. Thus, through patience and perseverance, we may gradually attain the advanced stage of juggling the fiery balls of our adult lives.
In a sense, while we often laugh at the idea of a New Year's Resolution, there is a point to it. If we choose something manageable and well-worth pursuit, such a resolution is beneficial and praiseworthy. Make a list of things you'd like to do, whether it is prayer, reading, service to others, or even just finding the time to be quiet. Pick one, perhaps at random, and strive towards achieving that end. Then, move on to the next one. With patience and perseverance, you will succeed.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

A Bed of Roses

When people are happy, they often say that life is a bed of roses. I don’t disagree that happy moments often remind me of lying on a bed of rose petals; however, I’ve discovered that life itself, with all of its ups and downs, is a bed of roses. A rose, as defined in the dictionary, is a “prickly bush or shrub that typically bears red, pink, yellow, or white fragrant flowers.” Roses are given as signs of love and friendship. Too often, however, people gaze only at the beauty in the petals and the smell while they fail to remember the prickly nature of these flowers. In the saying, then, that life is a bed of roses, I like to tack on that it is so, thorns and all. Life is never perfect, and there are often more sorrows than joys experienced. The thorns along the road of life ought to remind us of the thorns that pierced the Savior’s brow. In the relationships where roses are exchanged, the whole flower represents the bond of friendship and love. The beautiful petals and sweet fragrance point towards the happiness found in man’s relationships while the thorns remind mankind of the fact that all relationships, of any degree, will have hardships. Whether these hardships occur directly between the two people specifically, or if they are indirect due to the sufferings of one or the other in other relationships which the friend observes, listens to, sympathizes, and helps the other through.
As life grows more difficult to bear, the beauty in the roses becomes more difficult to find. This is where one must look for the silver lining in the rainy clouds of one’s present life. Most often, these silver linings take the form of true friends, the ones who are there to catch you when you fall, to bring you up from your knees, and to make you smile again. These friends are God’s gift to you, and it is your responsibility to care for and nurture the friendships. Thus, just as they help you, so must you likewise, when their lives become more thorny than soft, help them as best you are able, giving advice and a shoulder upon which to cry as well as the hope of a better day on the horizon, no matter how far that day may be.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

A True Friend?

Why is it that we spend so many years of our lives in devotion to people when we eventually simply get hurt and lose our trust once again? Perhaps it's that hidden desire to find the good in people and our wish to believe in good first impressions and the good of second chances. Or maybe it's a subversive masochistic streak buried in our subconscious. In reality, it's quite possibly a combination of the two.
In my experience, the company one keeps generally sorts out into two basic categories: the ones you become good friends with and the ones who eventually drop off the face of your world. Luckily, the former friends are right next to you when you're dealing with the latter losers. Sadly, oftentimes people who should fall into the first category, end up in the second category. It's times like that when I contemplate the true value of friendship and wonder why we continually take the chance of heartbreak when experience shows us time and again how frequent it can be. In my own recent past, this has happened less than usual, which makes each occasion that much more painful. And as much as we tell ourselves that this is a "lesson" to be learned, and that we will become "better people" because of it, we still wish it would never happen. But in this fallen world of ours, we can only dream of perfection.
Thus, in my moments of sorrow and despair over the human race at large, I thank God continually for my amazing true friends who are there for me at my darkest hours. I pray that, likewise, I may be there for them when they are in trouble. My greatest desire, apart from attaining Heaven even though I am not worthy, is to fulfill true Aristotelian friendship, giving all that I can to my friends as we support each other down the steep and dangerous road of life.
"A true friend is one soul dwelling in two bodies."
In conclusion, I suppose the real reason we continue to take a chance when becoming friends with people is because we know that, somewhere out there, we'll find those friends who are one in a million that we'll keep until the day we die. The ones with whom we'll share our joys and sorrows, our triumphs and failures, our hopes and our dreams, and the ones who remind us of the true beauty of life. So don't lose faith. There are amazing people out there who will not let you down regardless of the numberless jerks who mainly populate the world.

Cost of Caring

Breathing in and breathing out

Trying to calm the anger

That boils and bubbles

As it strives to be our fetter.

Releasing this frustration

Is a task we strive to do

Before it consumes ourselves

And destroys our placid cool.

Acting under the influence

Of such a stressed heart

Can often lead to pain

In every person’s part.

The ones to whom we turn

In attempt to understand

The pent-up anger and grief

We fail to now disband.

Fingers clench and throats tighten

To stop the flow of words

Which can only cause more grief

As a flock of angry birds.

The struggle to maintain control

In emotional chaotic days

Drains the body and the mind

In numerous painful ways.

The walls spring up again

Taller and stronger than ever

To protect both ourselves

And the friendships unsevered.

The refusal to acknowledge

The numerous issues at hand

Is the foremost issue we have

With the friends with whom we’re mad.

Their willful blinded eye

And closed jealous ear

All serve to raise our anger

At a personal cost quite dear.

Why do we stick around

And endure the constant harm?

Why don’t we leave behind

The friends who lose their charm?

Is it a masochistic thought?

A sick desire for pain?

Is that why we endure the hurt

Again and again and again?

No. The reason runs still deeper

Into the essence of man

Who cares for his friends always

Even those he should ban.

We stay because we care

More truly than we often choose.

The friends we now despise

Are the hardest ones to lose.

And the knowledge of the truth

Lying beneath their mad exterior

Keeps us hanging on forever

To bring forth the good interior.

Being friends calls for more

Than company and little jokes.

It’s a state of being in man

With which no one can coax.

The true friend sticks it out

Until the bitter end

Refusing to allow someone

To cease being their friend.

Although we must present the truth

To people who often don’t care

To listen with open mind

And their thoughts to repair.

Yet they need to hear our words

For we act only out of love

As we attempt to bring them peace

Just like the holy dove.

So our own needs we push aside

For when caring some must be gone

And this innate love for others

Makes the decision a clear one.

This is the cost of caring

For those who’ve yet to discover

Their own true identity

Which we try to help uncover.

So we fight the bad and praise the good

As we wait for the blissful day

When this friend will realize

The numerous errors of his way.

Explanations fail to show

The reason behind our choice.

The feelings we have and act upon

Supersede our self-preserving voice.

So we cling to each other

In our fits of insanity

And move ever onward

With a solemn gravity.

You and I will always be there

To support each other in this trial

As we strive to be true friends

In the midst of pain compiled.

Our own suffering

We now offer up

As we work together

To open his heart up.

To make him see somehow

The fault in his own logic

And the mental whiplash

Of his switching emotions.

We’ll make it through together

This current painful time

And maybe understand one day

What has no reason or rhyme.

Until that day comes to us

The chocolate bin will always be full

And the late nights continue on

As we resist anger’s pull.

God help those around us

If our strong wills should snap

And the tongues be unleashed

To release all the ———.

So we’ll cling to each other

And weather the storm,

Praying for a return

To a comfortable normality.