Sure we’re all born to suffer and die.
But before you go, try the pâté.
I was 17 when I had that printed on a greeting card by the guys at LSC.
I now am very clear how twisted up I was then, with challenges at home and challenges around my gender identity and relationships, but as the kid who did “wonderfully” in an odd confirmation class at 10, I was doomed to be a born theologian, teasing wisdom out of stories.
It was clear to me even then that life was going to be challenging, but the only thing that was going to get you through was being open to delight. If we weren’t grateful for the little joys, the moments and the blessings, then life was nothing but suffering and dying.
The only way I engage the hard, hard exploration of suffering I do every day is to be grateful for the little things. I am often shouting “Thank you!” in an empty room, for the taste of a fresh local peach or the sight of a beautiful full moon.
This can be a hard lesson to share with people who have learned to stay small by focusing on the dark parts of human life. The world is filled with death, suffering and maybe most of all, wilful ignorance — why can’t awareness be bliss and ignorance painful? — so much so that it is very easy to be overwhelmed by it.
That’s why I had to pull out an old maxim that used to grace the walls of the Mayflower Donut Shops:
The Optimist’s Creed
As you ramble on through life
Whatever be your goal,
Keep your eye upon the doughnut
And not upon the hole.
Here is a little tip for you, though: The bigger the doughnut, the bigger the hole.
For “too people,” those of us who are intense, who experience life in a big way, we have lots of everything. Lots of smarts, lots of energy, lots of vision, all that.
And we also have lots of darkness, lots of angst, lots of sadness, lots of hole.
Think Texas Donut here. Huge and compelling, big enough to be larger than life and memorable, amazing and awesome, but with a hole that could swallow a regular doughnut.
A big hole, black and huge enough to fall into easily if you don’t keep your eye upon the doughnut is something that can make you crazy. In fact, for other people, just having a hole that big can make you seem crazy.
It’s easy to get distracted by a hole, especially the big hole that comes with a big personality and big gifts. The hole will always be there, because every doughnut — every life — has one.
I know the hole. If anyone has mapped the darkness of a trans life, it’s me. But I am still here, still celebrating a juicy local peach as I have the gift of it sliding down my human throat. Gratitude for the next lovely moment I can find is the only thing that keeps me sane.
The moment you lose sight of what you must be grateful for is the moment you lose sight of the point of life. Sure, we are all born to suffer and die, but before you go, try the pâté.