MY FRIENDS LAUREN AND LAUREN CAME OVER
for a while last night and we figured out some things about this life. Namely that it's hard.
There you go. It's hard. There is sickness, suffering, death and loss woven into the fabric of a lifetime and there truly is no escaping this.
Life is hard. Which is why I'm convinced that we have to spend our time here doing two things: finding out what we're good at and doing it in a way so that it makes the world a better place.
My fifty-three years of time here have convinced me of this: we are here to improve the conditions of this world and to positively impact the lives of the people in it and life offers us infinite opportunities to do so.
I don't believe that everything happens for a reason but I do believe that suffering serves a purpose. It heightens our awareness, sharpens our vision, reminds us that we are vulnerable and returns us to the core of our humanity. It calls us to action with the expectation that we respond.
If you can walk past a homeless or hungry person and not respond, you need to take Freshman Humanity again. If you can hear that someone is sick or has fallen into hard times and not ask How can I help? then I have a sneaky suspicion you are going to be doomed to live this thing all over again until you get better at it.
That's my hunch; I have no idea what happens when we die. Many people have asked me if I believe in hell and I think to myself...you've heard about Parkland, right? Vegas? Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook? Afghanistan? Iraq? Syria? Katrina? Irene? Sandy? You know about Boko Haram and Bosnia and Darfur? Our rising seas and diminishing biodiversity? Yes, I tell them, I do believe in hell; we are living it right here, right now. This life is very hard. The good news is the other thing I have a hunch about: that a benevolent and loving life force has filled this place with lots and lots of good people who are kind-hearted, smart, strong of body and spirit and able to rise to the occasion. Also with flowers bloom that in the spring and snow that falls in the winter; this is a very, very beautiful place, in case you haven't noticed or have become indifferent to the magic all around you.
Yes, this life is very hard. Lauren and Lauren and I came up empty in the Answers department. That's because there aren't any. We're not supposed to make the hard go away or even keep it at bay. We are supposed to know about it and experience it. We are supposed to act upon what we know; we're supposed to allow it to mold, shape and bend us, take the straw of us and spin it into gold. So be it.
AND WHILE WE'RE ON THE SUBJECT
of unsolicited parenting advice, sort of, there's this:
People often ask me if I'm terrified when I see Sam launching himself off of something and flying through the air. He's a freestyle skier and he is very, very good at it.
No, I tell them, Sam was born to fly. He is a bird without wings. He has been throwing himself off trampolines and tree branches and cliffsides into lakes for as long as I have known him. No, it doesn't scare me at all. It makes me feel the way I feel when I watch the members of the New York City Ballet dance. It makes me feel the way I feel when I watch anyone do something magnificent with their body, something that seems improbable and poetic.
Sam didn't come into my life so I could stop him from doing what he was born to do. Sam came into my life and his dad's life so we could release him to this world to do what he was born to do. As it turns out one of those things is to soar through the sky on a pair of skis. It's pure magic to me. Do I worry that he might hurt himself? I do. I also know that someone could walk into the library at Nate's school and shoot him, today. Or that Coco's plane could fall out of the sky, today or that .... I mean, you get the idea. Some things we do are, of course, more risky, but a life spent padded in bubble wrap and fear is not a life.
I am in awe of my son, Sam. Amazed that my body created that being, and I can't wait to see him this weekend when he and his team travel from Lake Tahoe to Lake Placid to compete in the United States Collegiate Ski and Snowboard Association National Championships.
Samuel Lemaire, Lord of the Air, is what his Uncle Tommy dubbed him when he was just a little guy. Turns out he was so very right.