Last night, I was watching an old episode of The West Wing, one from the fourth season. For fans of the show, it's the episode where C.J. goes to Dayton for her high school reunion, but winds up being confronted with the stark reality of her father's descent into Alzheimer's. She also connects with an old classmate, a former bad boy who's cleaned up quite nicely, and he offers her a bit of comfort along with some rather pithy philosophy. "For me," he says, "the best day is always the next day. It's like those blank billboards that say 'watch this space.' There's always something better coming."
Well. Hearing that yesterday, after spending a good part of the afternoon with a friend whose brillant son committed suicide four months ago, really didn't cut it for me. Hearing that after getting a phone call from my neighbor to tell me his already frail 79-year old wife fell and broke her hip today and is awaiting surgery tomorrow, didn't really ring true with me. Hearing that after reading some of the things I read in the news yesterday morning - heck, I won't even go there.
I wish there was "always something better coming." The stark reality, cute guy philosophy or not, is that the "something" could just as easily be death, or disease, or some other destruction.The big question for all of us is how to deal with the uncertainty that is the essence of life.
I have a friend whose faith in God enables her to make sense of the incomprehensible. I have another friend who swears by the power of meditation and visualization to deal with life's vicissitudes. I also know people who rely on chemicals, both legal and otherwise, to anesthetize them to life's pain. There are no definite answers to this most indefinite of dilemmas.
I try to maintain a guarded optimism about life. Admittedly, some days are more difficult than others, and I fear I have recently succumbed to a bout of old fashioned pessimism. I realize that I've been extremely lucky in my own journey, and though I've had sorrows and disappointments, none were out of the bounds of expected occurrences. I know bad things happen to good people, but I know good things happen too.
So I remain realistic and pragmatic, but hopeful. I'll keep watching the space, but I'll keep an eye on my back at the same time, just for good measure.