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The Good, the Bad, and the Reality

Bad things happen to good people. True. But truthfully, bad things happen to everyone; no one escapes life without death, which depending upon your spiritual and philosophical beliefs, is a really bad thing that leads to a really good thing, or is just one last really bad thing.

Some religions tell us the bad things that happen to us are for wrongs we’ve inflicted upon others recently while others tell us they happen for wrongs we inflicted in a past life. Still others will tell us that bad things are our dues owed to attain a greater afterlife.

But my personal belief is that bad things happen because life is hard and bad things are part of it. I know, it sounds like a cop out; but hear me out first. Life is a gift; a precious gift no matter the circumstances of your own personal life. What we do with it is up to us.

Think about oh, I don’t know….maybe a million Sci-Fi stories written through the years all offering a Utopian future society where whatever you can dream or imagine is yours. Think about Star Trek and the holodeck where you could experience whatever you wished. Well life is really just that. We can all do whatever it is we really dream of doing.

Look at Stephen Hawking and everything that he did with his life, all while trapped in a near functionless body. But he set his mind, his imagination, and his spirit free to go explore the universe. You talk about bad things happening? Man did he get a tough deal of the cards. But he didn’t roll over, he didn’t just sit there and cry, and he didn’t give up. He took what he was given with this life and drove it to the heavens. I learned a lot from him on many things – granted I barely understood a tenth of what he theorized – but I learned a lot. But I learned nothing more from him than the meaning of indomitable spirit.

So when my car breaks down or my dog dies or whatever, while I hate the moment and I bemoan my fate, it is with the realization that I’ve been given so many thousands of gifts through my life, the greatest of all being life itself. And no, it does not remove the sting or ache or pain of whatever bad thing has crept into my life, it does soften it….lessen it somewhat…..  

As we’ve discussed through multiple muses here: life has to have balance. And good things / bad things is no different. Whether a big one or a little one, bad things suck. And they suck exponentially more when the bad thing happens to someone you love. It’s one thing to be hit with a bad thing yourself, but so much worse when it’s someone you love. You want to fix it for them, make it better, but of course you can’t. And the reality is that no one can make it better; that’s the harsh truth of “bad things”. But you can help ease it for them by trying to help them recognize the greater good in their life and, as trite as it can often sound, that there is great wisdom in the words, to know that this too shall pass.

Life doesn’t keep score of bad and good; it doesn’t give you a handful of goods after you experienced a monster bad thing. There is no balance sheet. Wait! What? Really? Is the person who is always preaching about balance suddenly denying balance as a life force? Nope. Not at all. What I am saying is that life is not about counting the “goods” and “bads” and summing them up to see if you’ve been treated fairly. Because life isn’t fair; it is about balance – no doubt of that – but it is not fair. So trying to balance good things and bad things will never leave you feeling satisfied.

The true balance in life comes with recognizing this fact, always. Certainly during bad times it pays dividends to remember that there will be balance and that at some point ahead good will replace the bad. But, when things are going great it is indeed the wise man who pauses to give thanks that things are indeed going so well, knowing full well that bad times may be just up around the bend.

And what of the adage that tells us adversity makes us stronger. So true. But I need to modify that. Watching my dad pass did not make me stronger in any way that I consider important. But there have been a myriad of things in my life that have. For example I’ve worked in some terrible conditions and I walk taller because of them. There were, not minutes, not hours, and not even days or weeks, but months of extreme working conditions and it made me tough. They were bad times, hard times, where somedays the sole bright spot was hearing a good song on the radio driving home (in a car with a hole so big in the floor that I would periodically lose the floor mat through it). But those times toughened me and while I did not appreciate it then, I do now. And there are other bad times not worth discussing that also made me stronger and made me appreciate the good in my life.

So once again, it does boil down to balance; not balance of good and bad by count or tally, but just the sheer elegance in life’s equation that provides us the perspective on it. Just as you can never truly appreciate the sunny days without experiencing rainy days, or heat but for cold, or light except for the dark – we cannot truly appreciate the good life without experiencing the bad. Good and bad are inexorably intertwined into the rope of life. The real trick, dear reader, is trying to remember that!

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