Welcome to An Examined Life. Occassionally I delude myself into thinking that I understand some part of my life (or life in general) and I thought it might be a hoot to share those thoughts with whomever happens to stumble across this. I hope you find something enjoyable here. If I'm really lucky, I'll make you stop and think for a moment.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014


Welcome to my morning, welcome to my day
Oh yes, I’m the one responsible
I made it just this way.

- from Farewell Andromeda
- by John Denver

If life hands you lemons, make lemonade.

Yellow is the color of lemons, bananas, and gold. You decide how you will color your life.

Over the last few months more and more of these inspirational sayings have shown up on my Facebook timeline. I don’t think anyone is posting them with me in mind; my friends are just posting things that move them and I get to see them. When I see them, I find myself thinking, “That’s not really true.” The John Denver song is one that I used sing when I was deliriously happy (or what passed for deliriously happy in me). I haven’t been able to sing it since March 2012.

I’ve also been seeing those “Gratitude Challenges” on Facebook and desperately hoping that no one will challenge me.

See, I used to think that how you thought about the things that happened was what really mattered. Parents divorced? No problem, it’s not about me, it’s about them and at least the fighting is over. Stepfather’s an alcoholic? Again, not about me and he at least taught me to do my work well. Screwed something up at work? Learning experience. So, I get where those sayings (and Denver’s song) were coming from. But I just can’t make a positive of Jonathan’s loss. My mind rebels at the thought of even trying. I didn’t make this day, I would not have made it just this way. If I had made this day, Jonathan would still be alive. He’d be healthy and happy. He’d be in grad school, his career off to an amazing start and he’d have an amazing friend who only had eyes for him…

But I didn’t make this day and gratitude is complicated. Everything is shadowed by the hole in my heart where Jonathan was. Intellectually I know that I have a pretty good life. I’ve got a relatively secure job that I really enjoy, a nice home, and a lot of good friends. I have one really good friend, who somehow always seems to know when I need to hear a friendly voice. Benjamin is doing really well in college and he seems happy and healthy. I have enough resources to feel secure and to be able to engage in my hobby. There’s a lot to be grateful for, and I guess that, in some ways, I am. It’s just that some of the positive emotion that’s part of gratitude – the joy or happiness or pleasure – has been sucked out by that hole.

I can’t seem to fix that. I don’t know if it’s fixable. I didn’t make this day. And, folks, sometimes a lemon is just a lemon.

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