Winter Waning Moon of Long Nights
“Be kind; everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” – Plato
I have, over my life time, found this hard to remember, but oh so true. Even the admired, the successful, the beautiful, the quick and the bright have their doubts, their relationship problems, their perceptions of bodily imperfections, their concern about the future.
Just a quick survey of folks in my life right now would include the neighbor with M.S. who went off the deep end and dragged his wife and daughter with him. Little Gabe and his parents trying to figure out hemophilia. Frank who finds the bitter cold hard on his heart condition now has trouble with his hip. Kate’s back is better, but her hips are worse. One docent friend has a daughter with lung cancer. Another Woolly and his wife care for her aging parents in their home. My first cousin, Melissa, 40 years old with a young son, died suddenly of a blood clot. As Plato points out, these are not the exceptions, they are the rule.
We are fragile creatures, beset with doubt and aware of our end. The short span between birth and death contains tragedy, affliction and woe for everyone.
Albert Camus, more my spiritual father than Plato, talked about us all headed toward the great river of death, the equalizer. He believed it was our responsibility to make the journey toward death as peaceful and compassion-filled as possible, for everyone.
In this sense Plato did not go far enough. Everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle that they will lose.
Here is the wondrous thing. Once we know the truth, our condition, and everyone’s condition, our existential predicament, we can break free from confining cultural mores, from the demands of religion or custom. We can break free and act as the independent agents we are. We can take arms against the sea of troubles and if not end them, then we can at least link arms with each other.
We can choose to be kind. We can choose to resist evil. We can work to heal illness. We can enfold the dark emptiness of death and make it part of our life, a reminder and a prod to do what we can, while we can.