February 16, 2009

Tales of Brave Ulysses

Tales of Brave Ulysses- Cream

Have you ever read the Odyssey? As a kid it was one of my favorite stories. I loved mythology and reading about Odysseus just fascinated me. A general who was one of those who went to war because of Helen of Troy. A hero who fought for ten years to find his way home and then when he got there still had to undergo more challenges before he could regain his kingdom.

When I find myself feeling overwhelmed with the challenges presented by life I sometimes think about these kinds of stories. I look at the challenges faced by Hercules and the little boy that still lives within imagines what it would be like to be that guy.

Part of what I have always enjoyed about these stories is that the heroes have a tragic flaw. They may be capable of incredible feats, but they are also subject to doing incredibly stupid things. It makes them far more human.

I suppose that is part of why I appreciate Harry Potter or The Lord of The Rings stories. The hero is an ordinary person placed in extraordinary circumstances. To be clear I appreciate that though they may win in the end, they do not avoid tragedy. It is far more real.

Lately I find myself engaged in trying times. It is not all that different from many others. The challenges that I face aren't unique. Many people face them, but the difference is that they are mine. I am the one that is forced to make the decisions about what sort of action to take or not to take. I am the person who gets to make the hard call about whether to answer the bell with a flurry of kicks and punches or to spend a round getting punched in the mouth.

In the quiet moment of the evening I write down these words and wonder whether the house of cards I live in will sway with the wind or collapse. Intellectually I haven't any doubt that one day I will look back upon this time as just a memory. It will be like every other experience in my life. Some of it will make me smile and some of it will make me sad.

Emotionally it is challenging. Because the decisions I make will affect all of my family, but as to what the final effect of these decisions will be it is unclear. It is moments like this that I look at my parents and gain a far greater appreciation for what they did.

It reminds me of conversations I used to have with my grandfather. It has been 2.5 years since he died and not a day goes by that I don't think about him. For that matter it has been a little more than ten since we lost "D." I think of him often too.

I go back and forth about what my belief about olam habah is or is not. I go back and forth about whether I believe in a heaven. Most of the time I think that there is. But I live my life in the present. I try to do good things now because I think that it is the right thing to do, not because I want some heavenly reward.

Sometimes I think of my grandfather and "D" as being part of the vanguard that gets to check out wherever we go after we die.

Going back to my grandfather I can remember him advising me about life. He'd tell me that all we can do is the best that we can do, advice echoed by my father. Not surprising considering they were father and son.

There were moments that I found it to be infuriating because sometimes I felt that my best wasn't good enough. But as time has gone by I have found it easier to accept. I may start a new post that covers this.

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