So, the basis for this blog’s title and my new life’s motto came from a somewhat strange place that you would probably not expect major life inspiration to strike: Spaceballs, the movie. Specifically, this little quote: “They’ve gone to plaid!” Watch the whole scene here (warning: includes a couple instances of profanity):
Then again, maybe this source of inspiration isn’t so strange since “art imitates life.” The creative works of pop culture – everything from music, books, dance, and art to Internet, television, theatre, and film – overflow with infinitely diverse reflections of life’s joys and sorrows, pleasures and pain, purity and corruption, beauty and horror, mercy and justice. Why not find profound meaning in several moments of silliness?
This scene seemed to really hit home for me in terms of life. Here we are in this world, chasing after something day after day…or perhaps aimlessly chasing nothing. Nothing we do seems good enough…or perhaps everything we do seems right and better than anyone else could do. Regardless of ambition or contentment, arrogance or humility, in our imperfect human frames and in an imperfect world, through a deliberate choice or unchosen circumstance, we will eventually find ourselves careening through life at “ludicrous speed.” We then begin to realize how little control we have, but still may not think we need a seat belt!
The problem is we can only go at ludicrous speed, or endure the stress of this life with the weight of the world on our shoulders in our own strength, for so long. Eventually, the emergency brake of the failed marriage, the terminal or chronic illness, the hurricane’s destruction, the death of a loved one, the job loss, the rehab clinic, the financial bankruptcy, the jail sentence, the nervous breakdown, the unplanned/unprepared for pregnancy, the extra 100 pounds, etc. brings us to a screeching halt, especially amid the backdrop of an ever-increasing violent and volatile world on local, national, and global levels.
The aftermath of ludicrous speed puts us at a crossroads. Here we have a endless landscape of plaid before us and a decision to make. Will you try to think, be, and walk only in the dark, ignoring the light? Only in the light, ignoring the dark? Or will you go plaid and accept the challenge of right thinking, being, and walking in a world gone wrong? The suffering and pain of the dark work to break us and bring us low…they can transform us in increasing measures of light if we let them. It’s not about dark vs. light, evil vs. good…it’s about using the darkness to create light, using evil we cannot control or avoid to create a greater and eternal good.
I’ve always loved the pattern of plaid, and recently realized how much that pattern of art actually imitates life in the world. White/light/goodness and black/dark/evil run together and cross each other, sometimes making it difficult to tell one from the other. Mercy (not getting the consequences we do deserve) and Grace (getting the blessings we don’t deserve) live in the shades of gray. All the shades and colors work together to weave a beautiful pattern; the light shines bright against a background of darkness, but it also penetrates some of that darkness.
We can continue with the lies as before or choose a different path: one of truth, balance, and healing. We can either give up or we can fight to make things right. We can choose to go plaid by learning to live in a right relationship with the duality of ourselves and of the world. I can screw up and feel bad I screwed up, but not allow guilt to make me ineffective. Instead, I can do what I can to make it right/seek forgiveness, learn from my mistakes, and try harder next time. When circumstances in life become tragic, I can choose to focus on the good (past blessings, something beautiful I can see around me now, or a hope I have for the future). When someone hurts me or someone I love, I can choose to bless them instead of curse them or seek revenge. I can be thankful, joyful, and praise God for loving me just as I am and loving me enough to be with me through it all…even if I can’t be thankful for or see the reasoning behind the storms God has allowed at the moment.
Seeking answers to the pain, people often ask the philosophical question, how can a good God allow such evil in the world? In response to this, I ask myself a few more questions. Would we know what good is if we did not experience evil? Is it possible for a loving and all-powerful God to work all things, good and bad, for the eternal good of His children the same way parents want to use good experiences/gifts to bless their children and use negative experiences/consequences to teach their children wisdom, self-control, forgiveness, compassion, etc? If we could all see/hear/touch God as we can see/hear/touch each other (i.e., when, Jesus walked the earth among us), how might the purpose and intensity of our faith, hope, and love change? Do you want to be loved out of fear, force, or obligation, or do you want to be loved because someone chooses of their own free will to love, respect, honor, and obey you in good times and in bad?
Each one of us, at one point or another, has fallen short of perfection. Each one of us, no matter how hard we try, will again. But, that doesn’t mean we ever give up trying. We learn how to navigate the vast, dark, murky waters of life bit by bit…from many places…through many people…in many ways, great and small. We see the glimmers of light dancing on the water…the reflection of the sun, moon, and stars all set in place to guide us…and, most of all, the Lighthouse that calls us home and loves us whether we are “hyperactive” or “ludicrous.”