There used to be a phrase ‘Being put on the spot,’ that I don’t hear much these days. People often do avoid uncomfortable questions but I’m not sure if its because it just fell by the wayside, or if in fact our society has changed so much that rarely people rarely find themselves there.
Perhaps the new pop culture language to ‘use your words’ and ‘I need some space please,’ is a few degrees better than completely ignoring a matter, and is sufficient. But in my experience much often still goes unanswered, unresolved.
It’s sad that folks don’t realize how much those loose ends play a part in the bigger picture. I knew a guy that once said ‘It’s not the tigers and lions that get you, it’s the mosquitoes.’ Those little sticks can become buried treasures leaving skeletons in the closest that become so big and overwhelming that for sure you will not deal with them. Life-sucking.
Before Covid hit I was researching MAID and euthanasia in preparation for a second book. I wanted to give the Christian side a fair hearing since it seems to be drowned out in the public outcry of ‘dying with dignity’. Over and over I read the most suffering people refer to is not pain and health (there are drugs for that) but psychological. Namely fear. Laden by fear of the future, saddled with feelings of being a burden and desperate with the desire to control circumstances. That’s the suffering and what people want to avoid.
I mentioned earlier that Convid exposed the broken parts of our world. That includes our personal worlds as well. Because our denials and distractions are taken away, I suspect buried skeletons will surface in rapid succession and a different suffering will begin.
I had an incident this week that brought home that very fact. I was writing a bio for a dementia senior. We only focus on the bright positive highlights of a life and speaking with this relative there were very few. Every time I asked a question about family or vocation it was ‘oh, don’t go there’, or ‘that was not a happy time’, or ‘they don’t speak,’ or ‘she was a very private person.’ The advocate was hard pressed to come up with anything positive to say for fear of triggering bad memories. Now not to be a judge of anyone else’s life, but I couldn’t help but plainly see what 50 years worth of skeletons does to a family. The suffering so clearly hidden behind preferred sides, stoic anger and fierce indignation. A deadly brew. Those skeletons were so entwined and burning holes in all their souls.
Which leads me back to my first statement about avoidance. When someone feels uncomfortable to answer something in an email, it is quite acceptable to just skip over it. Pretend you didn’t see it. Bury it in small-talk chatter. I ‘ve done it myself. No big deal. Digital communications has made it not only easier to avoid, but set a new standard, an acceptable ingredient our moral foundation. A foundation of sand which shifts our whole house two degrees in the wrong direction. Habitual pebbles in our shoe compounded over months and years will surely set our house on unstable ground, making it susceptible to fall at the first major storm.
Like Covid, where there are no easy answers. Each arena has so many complex threads and there are no immediate permanent solutions. But rather a blend of making the right moves in the right direction to create an environment of recovery, hope and healing. That’s the best we can do. So much like our personal lives. If Covid shone some light on some shadows, why not start taking the steps to replace it with a peace?
After all hope is a choice and a decision. Backed up by the necessary salt. And you’ll know hope when you start feeling peace, even pockets of joy, amidst the chaos. It starts replacing the cynicism.
Back to the dementia senior. In then end I got enough of the picture to sketch out a dark beginning, a dark middle but a very bright end – the last 25 years before moving to care. I focused on that era pulling out the brightest spots. And the residents comments were ‘This is a masterpiece, it’s spot on! It’s perfect. You put me back on the map. Thank you.’
Shining some light on those truths can help put us back on the map indeed.