His Unpleasantness Inspired Me
I paint with a group of ladies on Thursday night. One of them owns a small newspaper and has a photographer that has worked for her for 30 years. He is unpleasant at the moment and has inspired me to write.
According to my friend, this man was a renowned photographer, with money, prestige, and beautiful women at every turn in life. Today he is almost 70 years old. He’s not the hot shot he once was, he's not married, no kids and now everyone, including him, is a photographer. He still works his craft but no longer stands out like he once did. He became incredibly enlightened about a month ago when he and my friend sat down for dinner at a restaurant. The waiter asked, “What can I get you to drink old-timer?” Reality set in and over the next few weeks, he became one angry man. So much so that in a month’s time, his friend of 30 years has told him not to come around anymore. He is angry bc he’s got no one to care for him, no children to call his own, a career that he believes no one respects anymore and it’s too late to change his course - at least in his mind.
I was walking to the park one day thinking about the photographer. I was thanking the Lord for having a good son, for him having a good Dad, for my life and the good it has brought to me. I thought about disappointments along the way and the pain I had as a kid. I came to know the Lord at age 23, forgave all those who ever hurt me, and found peace to move on. 46 years of my life has now passed, so have many failures. I began thinking 'What if I had done this differently, what if that had not happened, how could I have made life less disappointing?' Hindsight is always 20/20. That’s when I came to the conclusion that maybe life isn’t supposed to work out just right. Maybe it’s designed to disappoint. No matter how good it is, it seems to lack, or at best lose some of its luster. Maybe the Lord set it this way so that the longer we dwell among this life, our hearts begin to yearn greater for the life yet to come. I don't know that answer yet.
I could have been the photographer living care free, indulging in all of my abilities, not realizing time was something to be considered among all the pleasures of this world. I could now be angry and bitter in the wake of all my travels and adventures, wondering where all the years went while I was eating, drinking, and being merry. Or...
I could be me and live a simple yet complicated life of marriage... and then divorce, with a son who brings me joy in the day... and quiet worries in the night. I could live in a state of “what should have, could have, may have been” and torment my soul, erode away my peace.
Whether I be me or the photographer, life hasn't the ability to be without permanent blemish no matter how I live it. Truth seems to be that no life has this capability.
Reality may be revealing itself if I am willing to face it. This life is good but it is greatest to the young, the naive, and the highly judgmental. After failures and financial struggles and the weariness of relationships take their full toll, life goes from being great to being very good. Good enough to still give it a strong effort, I should say. There are moments that make us happy to be alive, but I have yet to meet anyone in their golden years who says life itself is “great”. Those that try, purpose themselves to make it so each day. Maybe I too will be that person. No matter how I purpose myself, I will never see things the same as I once did in my youth. I want to see it for the blooming flower that it is now.
Life starts out strong and wound tight with great anticipation. It opens slowly and all the beauty and possibilities are revealed one by one. Time is of no consideration in the midst of such wonder and excitement. The flower continues to bloom. Layers and layers of petals, rich color and textures, blooming big and full, as life tends to be at this stage. But eventually, and always sooner than we would like, the leaves begin to darken a bit, the stem loosens from its strength and the vigor slowly fades away. As hard as we try to sustain the flower at it's most glorious, nature never veers from its course. Time must go on. Life must go on.
This day is the day to enjoy life as it is now. Not as it once was, nor as it might have been. The life we’ve been given is ours to make the best of. Water it. Tend it. Enjoy it while we can, because when the last petal falls and time as we know it is no more, all will be as it should have been from the beginning: perfect and forever blooming in a life no longer found beneath the sun.
Remember him - before the silver cord is severed, and the golden bowl is broken;
before the pitcher is shattered at the spring,
and the wheel broken at the well,
and the dust returns to the ground it came from,
and the spirit returns to the God who gave it.
"Meaningless," says the teacher. "Everything is meaningless under the sun."
Inspired by my friend and her friend and the book of Ecclesiastes
photos taken by Shauna with the iPhone 6s