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another lesson from the metro

I know people who struggle with depression. I also know people who suffer from positive thinking. At the risk of being over-simplistic, both of these tendencies (at least to me) ring of untruth in their own way. I always seem to be at a loss for words in the presence of super positive people. What can one say to someone who will only see what they want to see? Likewise, I have little to offer those who are trapped in despair, teetering on the edge of blackness. Maybe a hug or a sighing prayer.

I was on the metro a few days ago and they were having some problem with the automated voice that announces each upcoming station. I was deep in a book, as usual, and relying on the voice to let me know when I was approaching my stop. However, this time when the train left the station, the voice spoke some very unfamiliar words. I stopped reading and wondered if I had inadvertently stepped on the wrong train. I checked the metro map and found that the female voice was announcing stations from another part of the underground system altogether. The voice then began to announce, in rapid succession, all the stations at the other end of the line.

It was disconcerting to be hearing these strange words. It made me check twice when we pulled into a station to make sure I was on the right track. Yes, it was indeed the station I wanted to be at. Things were pretty much normal and as they should be, but hearing the voice give me continuous conflicting information was quite disorienting.

And I guess this is what I feel when I hear people talk in overly positive or negative ways. I look around me and see that what is actually happening does not quite relate to what they are saying. The words don't match the present reality. I understand there are times when we speak of things that we hope for. We are perhaps trying to align our thoughts with where we want them to be, but no amount of saying "I am at metro Cadillac" will put me there. I actually have to go there.

I also understand that pain can cause us to view things in a distorted way, seeing actual or potential wounds everywhere. But no amount of saying "Metro Namur is being swallowed into a black hole" when I have just pulled up at that very station will change the fact. Positive thinking is not faith and negative thinking is not doubt. Both just reveal how badly we see, and perhaps admitting this goes a long way to having our eyes opened to what is in front of us. And that is the good and the bad, the possibilities and the disappointments, the love and the fear, all somehow encompassed within the great and good hands of God.

Today, I am preparing for my master's thesis defense which is a mere 3 days away. I have many people telling me I will do just fine, and I appreciate their support. But honestly, I know that unless I study and prepare, I am not going to arrive at the "do just fine" station. Saying it does not make it so. Unless you are God, whose words and actions are one. I am not, so I have to stick with taking this journey one station at a time, one day at a time, and hopefully, one truthful moment after another.

May I learn to see the truth better so that I can speak it and live it.

This is a photo from a recent walk I took through a field. Buds, seeds, grass, trees, all at different stages of their life.


Brian said…
"I know people who struggle with depression. I also know people who suffer from positive thinking." Brilliant! Great post. Would like to make a t-shirt with these two lines printed on the front!
Donna said…
Quite interesting and insightful. I just finished my defense last Monday and while I had a lot of people praying for me, I prepared and rehearsed. In the end, it was a beautiful experience. I hope you enjoy yours.
Matte Downey said…
Thanks, Donna. Let me know how that tshirt thing works out, Brian.
Shelley said…
yes and amen. let's be real! I know people who do themselves a huge disservice because they are determined to only speak of what they think they should think, and of where they think they should be. I can only imagine the chasm they build in themselves...seperating their hearts from the rest of themselves with every 'victorious' statement they make. It makes me sad that somehow they have picked up that this is the message of the gospel.

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