Accepting Grace, fully.January 11, 2010
22 Capricorn: “A general accepting defeat gracefully”
Theme: Loss that does not diminish.
Inspiration: Greatness of character cannot be made less through worldly defeats.
Today: The question for the day is “Who would you be without…?”
Imagine suffering a loss of some sort today. It may be money or material possessions. It may be a relationship; it may be a love. If you believe your identity is bound up with what has been lost… well, not fun.
But if your loss takes nothing away from who you really are… that’s a different story.
It has been said that the only thing that can never be taken away from a man is his dignity and character. At bottom, this is not just about strategy: lose the battle; win the war. It is about going deeply into human character, a deeper resource than any worldly loss can fathom.
(Source Sabian Sage Daily)
As I blog, it is 2.32am, Tuesday the 12th, and the mercury is only a few notches below the record temperature of 44 deg Celcius that us Melbournians sweltered through yesterday.
Nobody sans air-conditioning will be sleeping tonight. Many have gone down to the beach, to sleep on the cooling sand, under the stars, to be lulled to sleep by the waves. Sounds like I live in Tonga or Vanuatu, doesn’t it? as opposed to a heavily populated bayside suburb in one of Australia’s capital cities. Yet we are an island continent. In the South Pacific. And no man is an island entire of himself.
A funny thing happened on the way to this blog. On the evening of the 11th, some six hours ago, one of my neighbours knocked on my door with a unexpected request. He wanted me to help him draft and write a ‘break-up’ letter to his lady-friend of the past 21 years; a woman he rubbed along with and settled for, and who decided on Sunday evening, that he was of no further use to her.
My neighbour, let’s call him Ahab, is a 70 year old man who in his youth, survived two tours of Vietnam, only to return to Australia angry, confused and scapegoated for performing his duty as a soldier. He buried his war memories in alcohol, drifted into a life of crime; he has murdered, robbed, bashed and gone through three wives and fathered a son who won’t give him the time of day.
Ahab has done all sorts of things; the good, bad and the downright ugly. He has lived a very rich and full life in experience, if not in material possessions and financial wealth or matters of the heart.
Tonight he sat in my lounge-room weeping for all the choices he did not make and for having invested 21 years in a woman who, now that he is in failing health, has decided to discard him after he has stood by her for a generation.
Ahab has been in-and-out of hospital many times these last three years and she has never been by his side and he has always made an excuse for her ~ how shall I put it? ~ narcissism.
After writing the letter for Ahab, (he currently has a badly broken arm which is not healing), I joined him and another male neighbour for some beer and sympathy and listened to them talk; open-heartedly, broken-heartedly about women, love and loss.
Two men sharing their feelings; a younger man comforting an older man; two tough and rough Aussie blokes.
And then there’s my perspective: You see, Ahab has told me on many occasions that he didn’t really love this woman, that she once betrayed him very badly when she cheated on him 10 or so years ago. He has confided in me his intuitive feelings about this woman many times before now, and he has never acted on them.
Yet, Monday evening, he mused about what his life may have been like if he had cut himself loose from the habitual part-time relationship with this woman and made a space in his life for something more. Maybe a woman who could have taken his drifting soul and steered it into a safe harbour, encouraged him to give up the booze and shoo-ed off the criminal mates.
Maybe in an alternate reality, we are all living the life we thought we would be living before war, illness, relationship breakdowns, and the vicissitudes of living on this shining Blue Marble separated fact, fiction and fantasy for us and brought us into sharp awareness that our backbones had really been wishbones.
If wishes were horses, beggars would ride.
Synchromystically, a haunting paragraph from a novel I have just finished reading, came to mind as I listened to the men mourn:
“You choose,” she says to me. “You choose which one you draw out.” She spreads out the three threads in my left hand and I hold them tightly.
The moon comes out from behind the cloud. It is a waning moon, fat and silvery; it draws a line of light along the dark water, and I choose one thread and hold it in my right hand. “This one.”
“Are you sure?”
At once she takes a pair of silver scissors from her pocket and cuts the other two threads so whatever was tied on is swept away into the dark waters.
“What were they?”
“They are the things that will never happen; they are the future that we will never know. They are the children who will not be born and the chances that we won’t take and the luck that we won’t have,” she says. “They are gone. They are lost to you. See instead what you have chosen.”
The moon comes out from behind the cloud. It is a waning moon, fat and silvery; it draws a line of light along the dark water…….it is still; it is too hot to sleep.
“Who would you be, without……..?”