I'm going to delve into a topic that I rarely explore. Manure. So if you're not into that feel free to read one of my prior posts.
Don't let my Idaho accent fool you. I wasn't raised on a farm, but I've always felt like I could handle hard work-- for a girl who wasn't raised on a farm-- of course. Keep in mind that the idea of what hard work is, is all relative.
Anyway, last year I was researching for a potential story and I offered to help the local rancher neighbor give shots to their cows while the local vet checked to see if the cows were pregnant. It was an eye opening experience. It was rainy, muddy, cold, and poopy. Those cows, all two hundred of them had a synchronized case of diarrhea. They went when and where they wanted, including all over each other... and me! It was gross.
Then came the needles. I am horribly afraid of needles, and cows, and manure, and blistery, cold, miserable weather. It was a challenge, but I was determined to stick it out. I did pretty well until I poked my thumb with the enormous needle while simultaneously having poop flung across my face and into my mouth by a disgruntled cow who wanted out of the stocks. Did you hear all that? Needle in thumb, poop in mouth, cold rain pouring down face--all for research. That kind of did me in. Weak in the knees, I resigned as shot giver and retracted to the nearest truck to recover from the shock and wash my mouth out with hydrogen chloride.
As more than a year has past since that experience I have had time to reflect on it and I can say, looking back, that I am really glad I did it. I learned more about ranching and I have a greater appreciation for what they do. It's a tough business and while I don't want to do it again, I do appreciate what I learned. I will also say I had a hard time eating meat for about three months after that. But I'm fine now, thanks.
Life can be like that too. You can feel stuck in the manure of life, barely holding on, needles pointed in our every direction while even more challenges and difficulties swirl like howling winds around your head. The beasts of trial and weakness inflict us at every turn, leaving some of us on our knees begging for mercy or help when it seems like no one hears our cries or really cares. Sometimes it seems we are judged harshly and not understood by even our most intimate of associates. Sometimes we don't understand why things happen. Sometimes there really is no answer.
I have friends who have lost spouses and children and have wondered why or what was the good to be learned from it all. I have no answer for them. Some things have no real answers or if they do it will only be had in the next life. Sometimes the answer is simply, "I don't know, but we are promised that everything that happens is for our good and learning." Easy to say, hard to swallow.
Philip Seymour-Hofman is one of those most recently hit by the fiery darts of life. He was an excellent actor and yet his demons must have tormented him endlessly. I am sorry for him and for his loved ones who have lost a father and friend. I hold no judgement against him and only pray he can feel the peace of God's love now. And I pray for anyone else out there who struggles with addiction by taking it day by day as they work to overcome their own challenges. You have my love, prayers, and understanding for such a difficult life-long struggle.
I have a dear friend who was recently diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer. She has already been through so much with a chronic bad back and know she's had at least two surgeries trying to alleviate the pain she has endured for several years. Now she is going through chemo with three small children at her side. Yet she doesn't complain. Through it all she is hopeful and optimistic. She is one of my best friends though she moved away several years ago. I don't have a lot of best friends. I'm too much of an introvert and too picky about who I want to hang out with. But what I love about her is she likes me for me. She laughs at my antics and keeps me grounded about what really matters in life. I know that no matter what I will always be her friend. I have my own trials. I wish I didn't have to go through the things I have to go through. But somehow, I know it is all part of the plan. The pain, the suffering, the sickness, all of it is for our growth, but man is that growth painful sometimes. It can be discouraging. It can feel hopeless. Yet, I know that through the mud and muck there is a sunset and warm arms to surround us like a blanket that offers hope for better days. There is help given by God's angels dressed up as our neighbors and friends, concerned for our well-being. I've had a few of those serve me recently. I am so grateful for their friendship that is honest and heartfelt because they do only one thing: they love me for me. What a wonderful gift.
So if your life feels like it's stuck in the mud. If you feel like you are covered in manure or that you are cold and wet from the elements, seek shelter in the nearest truck you can find. I am here for you if only by this association. I offer hope and love and absolutely no judgement. You can rest safely near by.
...After we get you hosed off, of course.
Thanks Steve for reminding me that George Castanza always says it best.