Photo by Jeremy Bishop on Unsplash
What we seek we do not find—that would be too trim and tidy for so reckless and opulent a thing as life. It is something else we find.
“So reckless and opulent thing as life”!
That phrase when I read it caught my heart . . . and held it.
Reckless and opulent, both.
How many hundreds of my mother’s eggs were cast away to make one me? How many millions of my father’s sperm?
And yet here I am, alive, breathing. I’ve been alive and breathing for eighty years. A true miracle. A reckless and opulent miracle.
But that’s the way life is. Both reckless and opulent.
It works both ways, of course. My son died at the tender age forty-two because nature’s opulent recklessness imbued him with a hidden flaw that played out in a neurological disease.
How often have I said it to myself?
“Nature is careful of the species, careless of the individual.” “In any pod of peas, there will be an imperfect pea.”
Peter was my imperfect pea.
My oldest grandson, Peter’s oldest son, carries the same dark gift.
And yet my son’s three sons exist, each in his own way making a difference in the world.
Life, reckless and opulent.
Some mornings I am so filled with life’s opulence, its magnificent excess, that I rise into wonder. Some evenings I crawl into bed weighed down with that same excess, overwhelmed by the day’s recklessness in all its light and dark manifestations.
But even when the weight is heaviest, looking out my study window at the superfluous abundance of the maple in my neighbor’s yard lightens me. Sharing a home with someone I love beyond any telling of it comforts me. Living, day after day, into the reckless gift of a brain programmed to do so much more than just keep me alive delights me.
What possible use does nature have, after all, for words shaped into meaning, into music? And yet here I am! How can I be anything but grateful?
Then there is the rest of the quote.
“What we seek we do not find . . . it is something else we find.”
What have I sought? Safety, I suppose. Above all else, safety. I learned at my father’s knee that life is unfair, unreliable, even cruel, and my first instinct is always to move toward safety.
What have I found?
A world that makes no promises yet bestows the most profound gifts.
The gift of a son who dies. The gift of a daughter who lives into the most graceful womanhood.
The gift of a career incapable of guaranteeing even food on my table. And yet that career delivers . . . everything. Purpose. Belonging. Satisfaction. Joy. Especially joy!
And food on my table, too.
I did not know enough even to search for what I have found . . . but here it is.
A world filled with reckless opulence!