March 23, 2007

"At the innermost point of the circle are the things that really matter"

Dean Barnett, who suffers from Cystic Fibrosis, has a thoughtful post on Elizabeth and John Edwards.

....Through the years, I’ve come to view serious and progressive illness as an ever constricting circle with oneself at the center. The interior of the circle represents the contents of one’s life. As the circle gets smaller, things that were inside get forced out. Some of these things are dearly missed; other items that were once thought precious get forced to the exterior and turn out to go surprisingly unlamented.

At the innermost point of the circle are the things that really matter: Family, faith, love. These things stay with you until the day that you die. At the very end, because the circle has shrunk down to its center, they’re all you have left.

But as we approach that end, we finally realize that all along they were what mattered most. As a consequence, life often remains beautiful and worthwhile right up until the end. The past several years for me have been a journey to what’s at the center of my life. One of the things I found there that I didn’t expect to was writing. (You lucky people.)

The Edwards have begun their own journey of that sort. Whether they still find presidential politics at the center of their lives a few months from now is an open question. Regardless, the journey is theirs, and one would have a heart of stone to wish them anything other than good luck and Godspeed.

I can't add much to that, except that the smaller crises in life have a similar effect. And life's opportunities too. Imagine being offered the job of your dreams, but in a distant place. Or requiring 60 hours a week. Then you would have to choose what's inside the circle.

And I can tell you that having children does the same thing. I keenly remember some friends of ours, years ago, who had kids about the same age as ours, saying, "We can't wait 'till things get back to normal." Ha. Wrong. Never happens. And that is, of course, a lot of why we have a "Culture of Death." People want to avoid certain painful moments of choosing in their lives.

Posted by John Weidner at March 23, 2007 6:40 AM
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