Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The good side of bad

Many of us operate from the perspective of good is good and bad is bad. This black and white way of looking at the world, at people, experiences and emotions, is terribly limiting in my humble opinion. This being my blog, I have carte blanche for the content to be chock full of exactly that ;-)

Anyone who has been through something seemingly bad and come out the other side must have something good to say about it. Whether you want to acknowledge it or not, you made it through, there was something to be learned or gained through the struggle, whether for you personally or to the benefit of others, and you're here to tell the tale. Where is the bad in that outcome?

Now, I'm not denying there are things in life that just suck. And that's ok. We need to experience the suck just as much as the luck. One allows us to better appreciate the other. The trick is to not allow yourself to become so consumed, so single-mindedly focused on the perceived negative that you miss out on the opportunities for so much positive to flow into your life.

All this is on my mind because a week ago today, as I was processing my emotions on the four-year anniversary of my father's death, I received the news that my best friend has breast cancer. What kind of cruel irony was this? Cancer had already taken my father, and my grandmother years before. Now my best friend was facing the same demon? I'd had my own scare last year, going all the way to the point of a lumpectomy in order to find out I had a perfectly clean bill of health. Why was she being met with this outcome? Why cancer? Why her? Why now?

Somehow this news was even worse than the times that damn "C word" had appeared on my immediate, personal radar before. This time it was my contemporary, my confidant, someone I identify with and relate to so much because she and I have been bound in a precious way for the past fifteen years as only true soul friends can be. We live very different lives on the outside, but few people know my heart better than her and there are few people that I love more. 

She is 34-years old, beautiful and kind. She is the most devoted mother to two ridiculously adorable, intelligent children and, what is perhaps the hardest part for all of us who have an emotional stake in this, she is in her third trimester of her third pregnancy, so everything that has to happen now must take her life and well being into consideration as well as that of her unborn child. 

There may not be much that seems good about this news on its surface. In fact it absolutely sucks. But that is exactly why we are taught not to judge a book by its cover. That applies to more than just people. It applies to life circumstances as well. And that is exactly what's been coming through so strongly for me in the week since receiving this game-changing news. Bad news doesn't have to be all bad. There is ALWAYS something good to be appreciated in every situation.

After my initial tears dried and I was able to hold the space of strength and compassion she needed and deserved, that is exactly what I stepped up to do. I listened to her cry in a way I had never heard from her before. It was so raw, deep and heart wrenching. Her fear, her pain and her love were all swirling together in this moment of pure truth. And equally truthful was the way she brought all that emotion under complete control as the sweet mommy tone returned to her voice when one of her kids needed her. I knew in that instant she'd be just fine, as would everyone who loves her, and moreover, there was tremendous growth and opportunity laid out before her.

When the worst possible circumstances you can imagine arise, the sun still shines, children still maintain their innocence and curiosity, love still courses through us. Joy can be felt alongside grief, strength alongside weakness. What begins as our darkest hour very often leads us to shine our brightest light. And all of it is temporary, all of it subject to change. Love remains constant, though it too has the ability to expand and take on new forms. We need these moments that suck so we can be lucky enough to experience love in its fullest, richest potential. It's how we are reminded that there is no separation from the love we feel, give and receive, and that which we truly are.