I’m all for naming reality.

One of my major battle cries is “I like being for things and not against things.” But the last time I wrote about that, a reader made the point that there really are plenty of things to be against!  And I actually agree with her. I could rant with the best of ’em about the ills and evil in this world.

But just for today, I’m sticking with my “I’m for things” stance. So let me say that one thing I’m for is telling the truth, naming reality, and admitting pain or difficulty. As a Christian, I can say “There’s no resurrection without crucifixion,” but that probably would require a sit-down, longer conversation with you to explore fully. So in the meantime, let me say that sometimes something has to die before it can reach its full fruition. Seeds have to be cast into the ground before they grow… you get the idea.

I really think we do each other and ourselves a disservice to pretend that all is perfect and to act as if our lives are trouble-free. One problem with that is that it limits our own growth if we don’t need to, well, grow or improve on anything. Another problem is that it leaves others feeling like lonely freaks if they think they are the only ones who struggle with something.

I believe that there’d be a lot less divorce in the world if people could admit the inevitable marital difficulties to others in an atmosphere where it’s considered normal to have to work hard at a relationship, where others said, “Yes, we too have had that sort of issue, and there is hope” or “Yes, it can be rough, but here’s what worked for us.”

Marriage, parenting, dating, work relationships, self-reflection — these are all areas where our mindset can flip us out if we begin thinking it’s strange that we’re having problems whereas a bit of struggle is the norm in relationships that attempt to be honest and real, to go deeper than surface peace-keeping, that hope to last and grow.

Yet our culture presents a view that makes it seem like a surprising, bizarre anomaly if anyone has problems or if life presents challenges. Which it does — every single hour that we breathe.

So to the degree that we say WHAT IS and don’t deny it or sweep it under the rug, there can be hope and growth and redemption ahead.

So I’m for negativity if something needs to be expressed — not wallowing, not complaining, just a simple naming of reality. And I’m also for sitting with each other with a presence that says, “You are not alone,” “I feel that way too sometimes,” or even — at the simplest level — “I don’t have answers but I’ll be with you.”

We can tolerate a lot if we’re not alone. We can move forward with hope if others who have that hope can join us and point the way. But none of that happens if we have to (or choose to) pretend that life is perfect.

Because for most of us life is not perfect. But it’s damned good.



Illustration by the Cowboy Prince of Custer’s Last Waistband

2 thoughts on “I’m all for naming reality.

  1. I’m with you, Spacious! In a Renewable Enthusiasm blog entry Mindfulness – the Miracle by Which We Master and Restore Ourselves, I wrote about a meditation experiment conducted by my discussion group. We experimented saying “no” to situations that we didn’t like. We brought up all of our righteous indignation. And then paid attention to the effect this had on our body tension. Then we practiced saying “yes” to those same situations. And the body tension melted away.

    I love it when sociologist Brene Brown said that the most powerful statement is “Me, too.” That’s essentially what my group did individually when summoning up all of our self-righteous indignation. “Yes! It sucks!” Then, shift to “Yes, it is.” Either doing this alone, or with someone else in saying “sometimes, that’s me, too” is a powerful way to begin the transformation of that negativity into something we can work with.

    Seth Godin wrote in his book “Linchpin: Are You Indispensible?” that the linchpin “has discovered that we only have a certain number of brain cycles to spend each day. Spending even one on a situation our of our control has significant opportunity cost.” I’ve started to realize that. It takes practice, to discern what’s within our control and what isn’t. Other people’s habits, perspectives, emotions, actions aren’t directly within our control. When you can name the situation – negative or positive – you can come back to what you can or can’t do about it.

    Then you spend more time living the life that’s damned good, rather than striving for the life that’s perfect.

  2. Well said and a stimulating perspective, as usual from you.

Leave a Reply