My Burnished Life
We all have them – scars, wounds. Just moving through life assures us of damage.
The pain of an abusive childhood, the confusions of divorce, solitude through the loss of a job, physical injury, and the growing limitations of getting older all can keep us from the elusive joy of success.
Something tells us that we are supposed to be happy, healthy, and whole. We strive for it, pursue it and then there are the times when we seem completely separated from this deserved joy. Life's pleasure eludes us and we become too familiar with suffering.
I have often and long thought of this question – Why is joy often painfully elusive. I do not have an answer. I do have some experience and an observation.
It might help you to know of some of the scars, wounds and blows upon my life. My father died at age 36 (I was 6) of a massive heart attack leaving a gapping hole in my family and leaving me with a life-time of an absent father. I have walked through a critical and dangerous illness with my first child. I am divorced and remarried. I have watch four children grow in our blended (meaning there were two broken families) family. I fell into drug addiction, lost my career, professional credentials and bearings. I have physical conditions that bring me pain everyday. I have lost jobs, destroyed relationships, abused others and violated most of the values I believe to be important. My step-sister was raped and murdered when I was 15. My sister and brother are addicts in addiction or recovery depending on when you read this. And yet, my life today is good and I am happy more days than I am not.
It is my experience that in the face of my life's difficulties and among my own ill placed choices I have always known that a larger and benevolent presence was at work in life. My journey has certainly taken me toward and away from the Divine, but I have never doubted the Divine's existence. In my darkest moments I guess I knew that I could choose to not be a part of this larger benevolence, but my choice did not mean it wasn't there nonetheless.
My observation is that my life has endured even the worst I have experienced. In fact, I can affirm that I have more than endured, but am thriving. Why? I'm not sure I can tell you why. I can tell you this – the scars and wounds that remain as the remnants of life's polishing of me. Perhaps polishing is too bright of a term. I have been burnished by life. In much the same way a welder may burnish metal to strengthen a contact, or a sculptor might burnish a piece of bronze to refract light in a particular way, life has rubbed and polished me. The result is a being that cannot be mistaken for anything more than a man, a human being, like others, who has found some admiration of his scars and the peculiar sheen they reflect.
I feel triumphant because of my burnished life. Careful here or you will misunderstand me. It isn't just because of what I have done to arrive at this moment. It is true enough that I am proud of the choices that have allowed me to live, but if I had been so wonderful I would have made much better choices that could have brought me to this point more directly – or could they? I feel triumphant because there is a peculiar, divine alchemy that has found in my choices and life's circumstances a limited and brazenly beautiful person.
It is also my belief and hope at this moment that anyone can find such beauty and solid joy in their burnished life.