September 30-B, 2022

November Maples 11/06/2005 Oil Paint Rendered — Greensboro, North Carolina
We want that and don't want to give up this to get it.

"You can't have your cake and eat it, too,"
gets to the heart of the matter.
The only way out of the morass 
is bearing the pain.

How well--how consciously--how deliberately--
how consistently--how utterly and completely--
we bear the pain of being alive
and living constantly between the two poles:
"I want to have my cake!"
"I want to eat my cake now!"
Tells the tale.

When Col. Nathan R. Jessup said
(In the movie, "A Few Good Men,")
he was talking about the truth,
"You can't have your cake and eat it, too!"

All of our problems come down
to wanting to have our cake and eat it, too.
Come down to
having to give up this to get that.

God Damn It!
We just want everything at the same time!

My sister Susan killed herself
by starving herself to death in Hospice care
because living meant living on life's terms,
and her terms were the only terms she would accept.

Doing it her way meant doing it this way now,
and that way in five minutes,
and that way five minutes later,
and no one could live with her
because her way was always changing
in light of whatever she wanted now,
no, now,
no, now...

Vladimir Putin wants everyone to adore him
on his terms.
Norma Jeane Mortenson killed herself
because what she wanted
interfered with something else she wanted,
and she couldn't bear the pain
of not having what she wanted
for the sake of something else she wanted.

The lesson in all of this is:
We have to bear the pain!
We have to bear the pain of the truth
we can't handle!

How well we live hinges on
how well we bear the pain
of our opposites,
of our contradictions,
of wanting this without giving up that.

Life becomes a lesson in pain management.

The people who live well,
bear their pain well.

The Sisyphean Task
is bearing the pain of being alive.
Of negotiating our way between
Scilla and Charybdis.
Between wanting this
and having to have that.

Sit down with what's killing you,
and come to terms
with the pain you are carrying.

What is the nature of your pain?
What is the source of your pain?
What is life requiring of you
that you do not want to relinquish?
What will handling the truth mean for you
and the way you are living your life?

This is a conversation that living well
requires of us
over the full course of our life.
We constantly bear the pain
of not being able
to have our cake
and eat it, too.

Broaden the conversation to include
your best friends.
Tell them about your cake
and ask them about theirs.
Make it a regular part of your relationship.
"How's it going with you and your cake?"

It is called consciously bearing
the pain of being alive.

The only way I know of handling the truth
is to handle it consciously
with those we trust to know us well.


Published by jimwdollar

I'm retired, and still finding my way--but now, I don't have to pretend that I know what I'm doing. I retired after 40.5 years as a minister in the Presbyterian Church USA, serving churches in Louisiana, Mississippi and North Carolina. I graduated from Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary, in Austin, Texas, and Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, Louisiana. My wife, Judy, and I have three daughters and five granddaughters within about twenty minutes from where we live--and are enjoying our retirement as much as we have ever enjoyed anything.

One thought on “September 30-B, 2022

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