This is my first post on Hopeworks Community in a while. This blog now has close to 4600 posts and sometimes people ask how I seem to have something to say everyday and I honestly don’t know. In the last few days part of me has wondered if I will ever have anything to say again. I have tried but nothing seems to come. Writing has seemed hard. Life has just been in the way. Some of my most recent posts I just haven’t liked. They seem forced and not really what I hoped to say. This post seems an important thing to try.
In some ways this will be a very personal post. It is about my life and my living. In some ways it is not personal at all and is about many things. I hope it will be clear but some of it may not be. Much in this post I am still trying to understand, still trying to think through. A week from now I might write it differently.
For some time now many things have been far less than OK for me. Life has been about hard times. If you have read this blog at all you know that much of the last 3 or 4 years have been war for me. It has not been a harder war or more difficult battle than others have faced. It has certainly not been more important but it had been my battle.
Much that I have counted on has been lost. Relationships once essential have frayed or been lost. Injuries have been frequent. Life has seemed endless emergency and some times it has seemed hard to tell when one battle had ended and another started. More than one person I care about is facing a life altering crisis right now. When it rains it really does pour… And pour… And pour. Someone once asked me about PTSD and half joking I told them my goal was to some day get post trauma but I didn’t have a lot of hope of success.
Somethings have doubtless been of my own making. There is much if I could do over I would do differently. Much has not been of my making though. .Some things are just the way they are. It has been about coping but more than that it has been about survival. And more than once I have wondered if I will.
It is not just the loss of any one thing but what seems like an attack on everything. As much as anything else I am just fed up with attack. I am burned out on struggle. I struggle not to struggle. I am just way past tired.
Life right now really sucks. Grief is a real issue for me. I am very unhappy (I am not sure it is okay to publicly say that and if it is not I apologize).
I struggle each day with never. I struggle against the cynicism that says things are the way they are and it’s never going to change. I struggle to believe something better is coming and it is just not here yet. I wonder if the jury is not in and this is the sentence I am to serve. Life should always be about question to be answered and I pray each day that this is not the answer to mine.
One of the things that scares me most about this country is that many people seem to be struggling with never. Life is painful and mean for them. And the things that are supposed to make it better, the things that are supposed to work don’t seem to work. Promises seem empty. Faith seems insubstantial. Many people feel betrayed and for many rage is their most constant companion. They may not know how or why but life feels wrong.
Look at our politics. Is Donald Trump not about never and rage and betrayal? I think so. How many people in this country have given up on better?
I have learned more about poverty in the last few years than I ever thought I would know. Poverty is about never. It is about choices you don’t want to make but also about choices that you can never make. The abiding sense of the injustice of it all is real and constantly alive. I remember after I took retirement from Social Security and the worker explained to me that my retirement was legally unearned income and I wondered what that meant about the work I had done and why I felt so dirty.
Poor people don’t feel safe. Ever. One problem, one catastrophe and you are in a situation with seeming no way out. It doesn’t how hard you try, how hard you work or what kind of person you are if you are poor so much is just one bad thing away.
I have an old car. Old cars break down. That is just the way of it. You know it and you don’t know what you will do but you hope the day is a long way away. My car has been sitting in the parking lot of a store for six weeks. I don’t think it can be fixed and if it can I don’t have a clue how I would pay for it. Right now at this moment I see no way I will have a car. It feels like never. It may not be but that feels as real as anything right now. It has been a large loss. You just assume you have the freedom to go where you want to go. And it sounds. childish but you never realize what a loss it is until it happens. For Linda so much has depended on being being able to get to the doctor when she needs to and the loss of the car has brought an impotence I despise.
Everybody needs things that tell them life is moving forward. Even if things are hard we need a sense that life works and is worth the effort. Everybody has things that make hard times seem a worthy sacrifice. Everybody has a “life may suck but at least this is going to get better thing.” People can live with an incredible amount of pain and misery when there is a real “not yet” in their life. We need purpose. We need to believe in a process that had substance and credibility. We need promises we can believe in.
The things that are not going to change come easily to define life when there seems little way to question them. I am probably not going to get any less poorer. The things I can’t have are not going to become things I have. I am probably not going to have a car. Going places will never again be automatic and easily assumed. The laws that have tortured Linda and I over the last years are going to stay the same. That which has been lost will remain lost. Too many changes are probably not going to change.
Life is so much momentum and so much is easy when the momentum is with you. And when it is not even the littlest things seem of immeasurable weight. It makes hope seem a futile wish. Pain is never all there is but sometimes it is hard to dispute it’s testimony. Perspective is hard to find when everything is in your face.
In the last years I have met many people in Tennessee that because they are poor and don’t have insurance suffer needlessly. And I have known people who have died. A lot of my energy, a lot of hope has been thrown into the effort to change this. It is still not clear to me whether or not this is a never or a not yet but the path ahead is very uncertain and some of it may depend on the election ahead. Too many people though have been told they must wait again and I fear too many have just run out of wait. The promise of the Tennessee legislature really caring and having the courage to act is something I really want to believe but I don’t know how much longer I can.
People should matter. If I am sure about anything I am sure about that. We have created a world that seems to say that they don’t or that they only matter when they look like this, or they only matter when they act like me or believe like me or care about the same things I do. We have created a world where the things that divide us seem common sense and real and the things that connect us are insubstantial and irrelevant. We define our life by what threatens us and look for ways to fight back those who we are sure are to blame for hard things.
My hope is that all this is wrong. My fear is that it is not.
You put your faith in stories that help you to make sense of what life is about. The way you make sense of what is going on defines and gives form to the promises you think life holds for you. It tells you what has not yet happened yet that you can put your faith in or strive for. All stories are promises.
Many people I know feel they have been lied to. And they are looking for another story, another promise. Everyday I see the extraordinary courage of ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances. I know triumph is real and people in the most difficult of circumstances have found reason to keep on.
Bad feelings have a way of making you believe they are the ultimate truth. They lie and lie a lot. I confess some days I believe the lies. I have a friend who lives in a lot of pain and one day she told me her secret. She told me that sometimes she gets so tired of it and wants to give up. But sometimes she knows what she thinks the key is. “I may never hurt less but I need to hang onto the fact that even when it doesn’t feel like it I can do more than hurt.”
I am a messy person. There is nothing bright or shiny about me. I have bad days and most certainly will have more. At times the most sensible thing to believe seems not to believe, but I know I can and that matters. I am not yet what I can be. It is a stumbling journey and one of many falls but it is a journey and it is not finished.
I can not argue with people who feel like things will never get better. Sometimes I am that person. Today has been a better day. It has been a while since there has been a better day.
My prayer is that when I wake tomorrow I will know that no matter what is hard or how hard it is that it does not define me. My hope is that I will know it is a new day and not just the same day to be repeated.
I hope that when I am at my worst and feel nothing will ever get better I somehow can still hear a quiet voice saying hang in there it is just not yet. And I hope that when I lose perspective someone will help me remember small steps are still steps.
I don’t know if what I have had to say makes any sense to you or if it just seems pointless rambling. If you too struggle with never I hope you know you are not alone. You matter. Everyday you matter. And your courage helps me to believe that the final words have not been spoken.
In the end you do the best you can and never apologize for that.
I hope never is just a moment for you and that tomorrow is the day you want it to be.