The world is a dark place
but as I was reminded today in a Facebook meme, “look to the east.” The sun rises in the east. A new day begins are dawn. When our nights are filled with weeping, upon waking, hope often finds itself restored. The morning looks not so dark.
Life is hard.
Even with things “opening up” and returning to whatever normal is, life will still be hard, only now more people realize it. No legislation, no tax break, no job growth will change this fact. Even if herd immunity is achieved, even if unemployment levels return to pre-pandemic levels, even if the time machine in my neighbor’s garage manages to return us all to a different, better, purer age, life will still be hard.
Only now more people know it.
That sounds bleak.
What do we do with this information?
We can self-medicate, isolate, escape into virtual reality until it passes. But it won’t pass. It will wax and wane, but the world we live in will still exist even after a night of heavy drinking.
We can volunteer, advocate, and work to change the brokenness of the world. While we have a significant impact on our community and the individuals we encounter, the world will still be a complicated, messy place. It cannot be controlled. The seeds of weeds will still scatter, some intentionally, some unintentionally, but we will never have to stop weeding unless we burn it all down.
There are those who want to burn it all down. But then, nothing will be left. No humans to tend the earth, no climate to make life worth living for the humans. It is an ecosystem and one thing depends on another.
What do we do?
We find a new way, a new path, something different than suffering and not suffering, but learning to find meaning in suffering and live even amid the pain. That is a life worth living. It does not have to be perfect or physically complete. It may not even be financially stable. But it can still be good.
Would you believe an operatic telling of Aesop’s Fables inspired these thoughts?
Opera Modesto presented “The Race” on April 9 as part of its Festival @ Home.
It will be available from Opera Modesto until May 9. I wrote about it as news, but now I want to write about the spirit of it.
It is joyful.
It is light.
It is playful.
It is beautiful, both in its naturalistic settings and the unique ability of humans to sing.
The singing is impressive.
The performers are representative of the diversity of the real world, in age and color, harmonizing together.
It has a vision beyond the brokenness and pain of 2020 and the tensions of the present moment.
Because Aesop’s Fables come from an age when we were better equipped to take the world as it is. And because the world was recognized as a sometimes dark place, with wolves in sheep’s clothing or consequences to laziness (those grapes did look good) it was actually possible to learn lessons that could make life better despite hardship, pain, or injustice.
We could learn:
I have control over my actions.
I can make a decision.
I can work or not work.
I can complain or not complain.
I can boast, becoming consumed by overconfidence in my perspective, no longer allowing for even reasonableness to intrude on my thoughts (should you really take that many naps during a race?), or humbly recognize my skills for what they are. They may be very good indeed, but it is still possible to lose. Not everything is within my control. But some important things are.
I believe we need to teach these lessons to our children, and revisit them ourselves. A lot of things come easier in this day and age than they did in the past, and that is a good thing. But it does mean we have to work a little harder to be reminded that we need to learn these lessons.
“The Race” is a great movie.
It really is what we need in this world. I heartily recommend it as one more antidote against both the doldrums and storms of this age.