Hope, Pride, and Change

Steve H. has a very touching post about his Dad called “Christmas Gift”. Please go read it now. Twice.

I can relate, though my own Dad passed away a couple of years ago, so the resolution phase didn’t happen, unfortunately. We were actually closer long ago, but then drifted apart, for various reasons. I know part of that was my fault; I had mistaken for distance what was instead clinical depression, as I found out after he was gone.

He was a very proud man; too proud to rely on anybody, even his only son (and only child, period), for help. But I can understand that, because I’m a lot like him, in a lot of ways. As you can imagine, this is not a comfortable feeling as I approach my 50th birthday this year.

But the larger point I wanted to make here: I’m happy for Steve H. that he has found happiness through religion. Really, really happy. The contrast between his online persona today vs. a few years ago is striking, and its obvious he’s a much happier person today. It comes through on his site, loud and clear.

For those who’ve never read his various sites (I’ve been a fan since early in my blogging days 6 years ago), he is a very talented writer and humorist, but personally, he suffered from some obstacles in relations with his family. I don’t know Steve personally, but he puts it all out there with his writings, and the impression I got was that he was letting those obstacles define his relationships, instead of forgiving, and accepting people for who they are, and realizing that we all have things we should apologize for.

Who among us can’t relate to such feelings of failure as we get older, and our lives turn out to be so much more complicated, messy, and inconvenient than we pictured them as young adults?

Now, he’s repaired his relationship with his sister, by moving past the obstacles that were preventing a resolution. He’s become closer to his dad as well. In fact, at least from my reading of his site, Steve has turned into a light in the darkness for others, by the Grace he demonstrates in the way he treats people.

I’m in awe, frankly. This is a tremendous achievement, and something I wish more people would even attempt to do. Including me.

This is a journey I sometimes feel compelled to embark on; yet, I’ve been resisting. Not sure what that is about. Steve’s journey is, therefore, inspiring to me.

The “blogosphere” is full of wiseass commentary on forgettable effluvia. In my view, that is exactly why many of us become addicted to various blogs, for the unfiltered feel of it: it’s fun and refreshing to read people’s unfiltered thoughts.

But most of us — including, and especially, me — also need more meaning in our lives. Are we making enough time in our lives, and making the right choices, and reading the right sources, to fill our lives with more meaning? There is lots of evidence that the answer to that is “no”.

We invest our spiritual selves in various vices, potions, diversions, and consumer goods, but it doesn’t seem to work very well.

We assign existential meaning to political silliness. “Hope”? Sorry, that’s a religious appeal.

We fill our lives with meaningless crap, then we run to the doctor for prescriptions to make us happy.

We worship at the Altar of the Self, then wonder why we don’t feel fulfilled.

We devote our lives to work, then are shocked when work doesn’t devote itself to our lives.

We obediently follow pop culture dictates that tell us if we lose that last 20 pounds, or buy the right clothes, or the right tech gadgets, we will finally become the person we are searching to be.

That is like waxing your car every day and never changing the oil, and expecting it to run forever.

Everybody has faith in something. Much of it is misplaced, and leads to cognitive dissonance: “I live for myself because I’m important; why then do I feel so much is missing from my life?”.

I’m hardly the first person to note this, but it’s become more and more obvious to me as I’ve gotten older: the best way to instill true meaning in our lives, at least in my view, is to stop living for ourselves, and turn our lives over to God.

However, this is very hard, and therefore scary. And as Americans, we have the freedom to live our lives as frivolously as we dare. So, many of us do exactly that. But we shouldn’t wonder, then, why our lives lack meaning.

I’m trying to give more freely of myself, and turn my life over to God, but I know I’m not trying as hard as I could. Not sure why that is. Because it’s hard, maybe. And scary.

So I move ahead, one step at a time, with the goal of becoming more like my betters. I have examples to follow: my wife, in particular. She gives time she doesn’t even have. 🙂

And the reward should be more than worth it: the end of the charade of trying to find meaning in a life lived for ourselves. As my Uncle Bill (Jax) states here:

We have been duped into the heady notion that we have the right to define truth for ourselves. Underneath it all is the notion that we want to be God.

The whole idea sounds pretty preposterous when you state it as starkly as that, doesn’t it?

Steve H. has made big changes in his life, and has found meaning, and he and I are similar in lots of ways. So there is hope.

There is always hope. There must be hope. It’s all we have, really.

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