“Life is difficult. This is a great truth, one of the greatest truths. It is a great truth because once we truly see this truth, we transcend it. Once we truly know that life is difficult-once we truly understand and accept it-then life is no longer difficult. Because once it is accepted, the fact that life is difficult no longer matters.”
― M. Scott Peck
Forever Young sung by Norah Jones
It is a new beginning and with it new challenges , a new year and lots of plans journeys and goals to fulfill .
The great part of being in triathlons and a club , community and training with like minded people aside from the great friendships and diversity of friends I meet outside my work , there is the goal oriented pursuit and as each race/adventure is completed a new plan is hatched .
Amidst these plans and training our lives are much the same , we work , we have families and commitments and bills to pay, lives to juggle. With life comes all the human frailty and happiness and sadness and all emotions between . Our lives are like the torn bits of cloth caught in the barbwire that is our destiny .If I have learnt anything in this sport it is that the sweetest of victories has not been winning but finishing when the journey was the hardest. Similarly in Life , it is the bumps in that road of life , that barbwire that we occasionally touch that test us out . It is that frailty that I see every time a friend , an acquaintance or someone just outside my circle dies or is injured or is ill.
How do I react ,how do I comfort , how would I take the news myself. I face this dilemma and there is no easy answers .You want to empathise and say all the right things but sometimes there really isn't anything that can be said. Life is tough, unfair , good people die and sometimes die way too early. There is no " he had a good life" because life is living and there really is no fair measure of how well someone lived their life as a prize for it being taken away so soon. I certainly won't wish to compare the nun who prays and does good works to my friends who have families and love their children and wives and husbands and go to work each day and ride their bikes and try to be good people.
When you face the end whether you believe in the afterlife or not what really is the measure of a good life or a life well traveled. We spend much of our lives aspiring to be happy and seeking happiness , for many it is recognition and wealth and comfort and real tangible assets. I am no different , I seek comfort and security and safety. In the end as I try and face these questions of life and death , it isn't really anything more than contentment and gratitude .But discovering and being are not easy in this media driven world . Deciphering the message from the chatter of this world is the art . Be it religion or philosophy , if only we can strive for that perfect mental equilibrium in life. It is that realisation that is so hard ,it does not make it any easier I think to face death as Christopher Hitchens commented on below:
"My chief consolation in this year of living dyingly has been the presence of friends," Hitchens wrote in the magazine earlier this year.
Last year he wrote: "Cancer victimhood contains a permanent temptation to be self-centred and even solipsistic."
Here and elsewhere, Hitchens does not allow himself the intellectual indulgence or sloppiness of self-pity or grandiosity. (He says, for instance, after his diagnosis, “to the dumb question ‘why me?’ the cosmos barely bothers to return the reply: ‘why not?’ ” )
That line between life and death isn't about good or bad, it exist and we will all cross it someday .I hope I handle it with the dignity and quiet fortitude I see in my friend.
Christopher Hitchens’ Mortality: A rare honest book about death by Katie Roiph