Thursday, November 25, 2010
All for the Better
I once woke up in the intensive care unit of an Oregon hospital with 20% of my body oozing with electrical burns while a doctor explained to me that I would probably lose my right arm. Then he said, "You're a lucky young man."
What he meant, of course, was that I was lucky to be alive, but I had to laugh at the suggestion that being in my crispy condition was somehow a fortunate turn of events. I've come to appreciate over the years since that I was indeed a lucky man and still am. Things generally go my way. Even when they don't, I end up better off than I would have been had I gotten what I wanted in the first place. I've become one of those "it's probably all for the better" people. I'm not quite religious enough to claim it as God's Will, but I suppose that is just another way of saying it. Only as I write this do I realize the link between the word better and gambling. It's all for the better (or bettor) suggests that whatever the outcome of any gamble made -- whether climbing a power pole or climbing in the car to head to Grandma's for Thanksgiving dinner -- we betters are enriched by it.
We know these things instinctively, but tend to lose of track of it as our days roll along from one news cycle to the next. If any of us were in a car crash and there were minor injuries and the car was totaled and an entire week derailed, most of us would end the story we told of it with "...we were very lucky. We could have been killed." That's what I love about us. But it doesn't last. Lawyers get involved. Newspapers present the tragic saga and name the negligent party. Can you imagine any plaintiff's lawyer standing up in a courtroom and saying, "Your honor, we seek no damages in this case because my client feels very lucky to be alive." ? Never happen. By the end of that story everybody is a victim, nobody feels fortunate, and that wonderful moment of grace and gratitude we experienced at the simple fact of being alive is buried under a pile of grief and regret.
So, for today, for Thanksgiving, I invite us all to look around our lives and find that moment of grace. It's all for the better, and we're lucky to be alive. Easier for some of us than others, but not impossible for anybody.