Monday, March 28, 2011

Happy Does Not Equal Good

In our culture, I think we have a lot wrong. We think being happy is good, and being sad is bad. It's ingrained. Like I mentioned in an earlier post, in our basic greeting to one another we expect people to say "I'm good" when we ask them how they're doing, even though that's a farce for so many reasons.

I think in our culture we wrongly typecast things into the "happy = good / sad = bad" because we can. We have running water and plumbing; various sources of power; most of us grew up with a park in front of our house and behind it (yards); we went on family trips (often in vehicles that left the ground and flew over oceans); we got to eat wonderful foods like tropical fruit even when there was snow outside; and we were able to visit doctors when we got sick, and then the pharmacy for medicine, and (worst case scenario) the hospital until we got better.

Our culture possesses so many magic bullets that we've understandably created a culture of getting back to happy. Happy is normal. Happy is good. Sad is bad.

I think Amy and I have shared at some point how there's no cure for Gabrielle. She likely won't make it past 6 years. 8 if we're lucky. We chose the transplant in hopes that she can live a better short life, and reach more milestones. It flipping sucks. The heartache is indescribable. But that's okay, because the situation just is. While it is sad, it's also brought us so much happiness. So while it's not good, it's definitely not bad. It just is.

I guess what I'm saying is that half of what makes this experience so difficult stems from it's rarity in our happy culture. 100 years ago, no problem: everyone knew someone who had lost a child before 5. Heck, that's why our lifespan wasn't much more than 40 years old through the ages – lots of the little'uns didn't make it past 5 years old and skewed the statistics. In our culture today, though, it's a tragedy beyond measure.

I think what so many of us in our culture don't realize is that part of being human includes hurt and pain and suffering. We embrace growth and encourage it. Yet we hide decay. While I believe in being growth-oriented, I think it's good for us to consider that we'll all return from whence we came.  It's a reality not many of us want to face, and many of us don't.

Growth and decay are both real. Neither are happy or sad. Or good or bad. They just are.

I think Eastern European music describes what I'm trying to say best, with all of its minor keys. The peoples of the vast Eastern European plains had more than their fare share of hardships through the ages, and their music expresses their acceptance and celebration of the full human spectrum. And while the minor keys may sound dark and gloomy to our Western ears, I think their beauty is achingly real ... and neither good or bad.


  1. An well-written and expressed post, reg. The song sounds like a hymn or spiritual song, it's very inspiring.
    you and amy are champions and Gabrielle is the luckiest girl to have you as parents!!
    love to you all

  2. You guys amaze me. Everytime I sit down and read your blog your spirit and courage inspire me. Reading your words lift me up and I realize how amazing life is and how very blessed we all are. I thank you for that.
    I just passed along the website to a very close friend of mine, as her 20 month old nephew was diagnosed with cancer over the weekend. I hope that your words will help her to see the positives in life as well.
    Lots of love and big hugs to Gabrielle and the boys,
    Kim Thornton

  3. Thanks Michelle and Kim ... we're suckers for compliments. :)

    @ Kim ... oh man, please pass on our condolences to your friend and her family. My thoughts and prayers are with them.