HOW WELL ARE YOU BALANCING ON THE TIGHTROPE OF LIFE?
No one is free from change, and what is worse no one can count on luck to forever spare them a radical and unfortunate change. Misfortune is the twin sister of good fortune, and she never tolerates being separated from the other for long.
The unlucky souls who have greatly suffered the effect of this powerful and unwelcome attraction do not have the luxury of ignoring it. They are confronted by it and they must deal with it. Among them are victims of grievous accidents that have left their dreams as well as their limbs paralyzed. To them like to others who have been subjected to a radical and unfortunate change, this change usually means grief and depression.
Yes, this is an unpleasant topic. Perhaps you are one of the lucky ones who have been relatively spared until now. If that is the case (and anyone with a kind heart will wish you continued luck for many years to come), should you not concern yourself with this unpleasant topic? Should you discard as irrelevant to you and many others like you the experience and wisdom of a man who has spent the last quarter-century mastering the art of turning grief and depression into serenity and happiness? Should you merely brush aside the product of his extensive study and positive thinking, combined with productive action?
This man is Laurent Grenier, author of the new - part autobiographical, part philosophical - book A REASON FOR LIVING (the way to fulfillment against great odds). A once teenage athlete who became paralyzed as a result of a diving accident, he gradually learned the secret of converting the apparent absurdity of his condition into meaning. Likewise, an alchemist transmutes lead into gold thanks to the philosopher's stone.
What if this secret was universal and applicable to all, whatever their fortune may be? What if it could significantly benefit everyone, even the most lucky ones, healthy and wealthy, and usually in good spirits into the bargain? "Humans are at their best when things are at their worst," I have once heard, and surely the enlightening and inspiring philosophy of a man who has risen from misery is an example of such best. Whether you decide to feed on it or let it go to waste is a matter of personal choice.
Born in 1957 of Canadian parents, I have lived most of my life in Ottawa. In 1974 - I was an athletic teenager then, with dreams to match - I became paralyzed due to a diving accident. Everything that had given meaning to my life was now impossible, a thing of the past confined to memories. Depression took hold of me and did not release its grip for many years until I grew so disgusted with this constraint and put up such a struggle that I broke free from it. Before that turning point, I had written some gloomy poems that fed on this depression and relieved it somewhat, not enough. I needed a reason for living that was not limited to the satisfaction I could derive from writing well about suffering and death, the latter regarded as the ultimate escape, away from this suffering. I needed wisdom, an outlook on life that would be favorable to happiness. And this need turned my vocation as a poet into a vocation as a thinker with a positive message to convey, one that could enlighten and cheer readers, rather than oppress them with gloom.
|Publisher:||PageFree Publishing, Incorporated|
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.48(d)|
Read an Excerpt
From the creative explosion marking the outset of the universe to our advanced human stage in evolution, some fifteen billion years have elapsed. This advanced stage refers to the natural abilities and the cultural realizations of our species. While these natural abilities have virtually not changed in the last hundred thousand years, these cultural realizations have progressed exponentially over the same period. The former depend on a biological memory - the genetic information that is stored in human cells and can be transmitted through reproduction. The latter depend on a social memory - the didactic information that is stored in human libraries and can be transmitted through education. Together these two memories and modes of transmission supply the necessary tools to perpetuate and ameliorate humanity. The problem is that humans rarely use these tools to the maximum. They reproduce very well; more than five billion people testify to that; but they could do better in every other respect, witness the many instances of weakness and wickedness that tarnish their image.
Having said this, their existence can never be perfect. The worthiness and especially the effectiveness of their efforts will always be limited and perfectible. Such is their human condition. They can achieve great things, thank God! Yet this greatness cannot be absolute, thank God again! This imperfection hides a sublime advantage that can only be fathomed and cherished by a life lover. It ensures the maintenance of a dynamic state in pursuit of fulfillment, which is essential for the act, the dignity, and the joy of living.
Conversely, the attainment of infinite health, strength, pleasure, wisdom, glory, wealth, and every other object of one's desires would amount to an infinite satisfaction that would kill these desires. This attainment is impossible because it is incompatible with life. Perfection and death go together like two inseparable lovers in a single tomb. They send a shiver down my spine. Who can look on death as the ideal of life? Perfection is fit for a stone. It may appeal to a wretchedly tired soul in dire need of a rest. Dead, however, would this soul not adopt the opposite stance after a lengthy bout of mineral tranquility? Would it not dream of having a second chance to live and love life?
Many may think that the human condition could be better without being perfect. What is the meaning of this betterment, which bears no relation to the one that ought to be accomplished by human means within the limits of this condition? Do many wish God would increase these means or reduce these limits? For what purpose? To make life easier? Closer to death! Can they not see the beauty of the imperfection as it is? Can they not appreciate that the peak of human fulfillment entails a steep mountain to climb and the constant risk of falling?
Admittedly, it is hard not to lament one's challenging human condition while painfully struggling to rise to the challenge, especially if the difficulties are serious and numerous in the extreme. Correlatively, it is hard then not to reckon that there is room for improvement in the creation. I for one have long indulged in this sort of lamenting and reckoning. With hindsight, I am now in a good position to size up my error. God was not to blame for my unhappiness at the time; my attitude was at fault. I had failed to realize that the extreme difficulties I was faced with were exceptional opportunities for spiritual development and enlightenment, just as an obstacle can keep ivy in the dark and become the instrument of its ascension to a superior place in the sun.
I do not regret having gone through years of foolishness and suffering. I count them as labor pains for the birth of wisdom and happiness. They accentuate the brightness of my later years inasmuch as their gloominess contrasts with it. This brightness is spiritual, a sense of purpose and serenity that transcends my physical disability and pain, which are incurably restricting and excruciating. My body has remained practically as it was, whereas my spirit has improved significantly. I resemble someone who is using the same glass, but has changed its content from a nauseous brew to a luscious nectar.
What if the worst had come to the worst? I could have lacked the means of turning my ill fortune to good account. Whether this lack would have been due to a mental disorder that was without hope or to adverse circumstances that were without hope does not matter. The point is that my life would then have been hopeless, seemingly absurd. In fact, it would have had a meaning from a broader viewpoint portraying it as an unfortunate event in the life of humanity, capable of fulfillment. My individual existence is a minute aspect of my human existence. I look at myself past my ego and identify with the divine principle within me, which is common to all humans, to say nothing of everything else in the universe. I am fundamentally it and consequently us. Still, life is too hard and too risky in the eyes of many. By contrast, others are such proponents of a virile existence, demanding great courage and giving great pride, that they are ready to leave the coziness of their home to scale Mount Everest and breast the elements for the sheer joy of conquering the summit. Whatever the perspective, the nature of things remains unchanged. There are rules, necessities and duties, and limits, possibilities and impossibilities. Until doom, one can accept them and make the best of them, much to one's pleasure and honor, or one can do the opposite and suffer the consequences. The choice between these two options is the very essence of freedom. Personally, I have no use for the second option: a self-inflicted misery that is without the slightest doubt a pitiable way of life.
The first option, on the other hand, is a pleasurable and honorable alternative that I find compelling, though uphill. It is applicable to any situation encountered in the course of one's living venture, provided one is not unfortunate to the point of being hopelessly unable to cope. The range of this applicability corresponds with the range of one's adaptability. It is normally considerable, despite the tendency to cling to old gratifying habits even after they have become impracticable or unsuitable, owing to a change of situation. One can be weaned from such habits onto new gratifying habits, in the same way as a baby can be weaned onto solids. The more the change is significant and one is reluctant to adapt to it, the more the weaning process is difficult and long in producing the desired effect. Again, the only option worthy of one's attention consists in taking things as they come and making the most of them, for one's sake and that of others. The reverse is foolish and harmful, a deplorable waste of humanity.
On the whole, the power to live in a well-adjusted and high-minded way and the freedom to choose this way in preference to the alternate, illegitimate, way are the foundations of the life one builds. The exercise of this power does not necessarily imply a principled resignation toward the status quo. One may be faced with a remediable evil that calls for a struggle to remedy it, effectively and rightly. In that case, living in a well-adjusted and high-minded way entails accepting the need for this struggle and the means of waging it, and sparing no effort to attain one's end. Ills are a test of will, an opportunity to show dignity.
They are also an opportunity to probe and appraise one's inner resources. Over the years, I have improved my situation and especially my attitude, whose negativity was the most unfavorable and improvable aspect of my life. In so doing, I have discovered my true richness. Nature has endowed me with an adaptable capacity for happiness within the limits of my changeable reality. According to my observations, this capacity is not unusually great, compared with that of most people. I am even tempted to think it is somewhat lagging behind. Eleven years plus to adapt in triumph to my physical disability is no feat for the Guinness Book of World Records!
During that time, the riddle of life had more or less baffled me. Yet, laboriously, with the help of many books and much thought, I had managed by degrees to clear it up, enough to find a meaning to my life. This riddle is comparable to a mire: The slower you go through it, the deeper you get into it. Perhaps thinkers are commonly untalented in the art of living and their saving grace is their dogged determination to redeem this lack of talent by dint of studying the human soul. Amusingly enough, these untalented individuals are often perceived as gifted, once they have seen the light and reflected it with the numerous mirrors of an elaborate analysis, after a tentative and protracted search in the dark.
This sort of overcompensation is typical of people who experience difficulties in a certain area, but refuse to admit defeat. While some fare well in this area with a minimum of effort, they try hard to overcome these difficulties, with the result that they often fare better than the others. Their redeeming feature is their willpower in the face of their shortcoming, which they use as a reason to redouble their efforts, not as an excuse to throw in the towel. This is a recipe for a worthy success. They discipline and surpass themselves, and thus proudly turn things around.
Table of ContentsIntroduction
Chapter 3-Death wish
Chapter 4-Poetic instinct
What People are Saying About This
"Laurent, you are an excellent writer."
author of the manual "My Book Kit," and head of PageFree Publishing Inc.
Excellent book... for a better, wiser, happier life. (e-bility.com)
... writing is very strong - stylistically, grammatically, and in terms of
author of the book "A Gloss on Our Painted Gods," and graphics designer/editor at Shadow Box Creative Media ltd.