Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Today's MOMENT OF ZEN 8/15/12

Words and Photo by F LoBuono

For Karen

Courage. In most cultures, the word is usually associated with individuals who exhibit a defiance, if you will, in the face of great odds opposing them, usually at the risk of daunting physical peril. The man in Tiananmen Square in China ("Tank Man"), standing alone, ramrod straight, staring down a 40 ton tank, defiant, seemingly fearless, immortalized in a Pulitzer Prize winning photograph, serves as a class example of courage.  By the way, the man in the photo has never been identified. And, the photographer, Jeff Widener of the AP, also exhibited great courage by not only making that photo in the first place, but by then having to smuggle it out of a hostile and paranoid China.

These are most worthy examples. However, courage can be also be seen in many people and in many smaller, more subtle ways. Yet, it is just as worthy and inspirational. The same ethos displayed by "Tank Man" is applied every day, and, most often, in ways that can often be overlooked.

I had breakfast the other day with a childhood friend. I've known Karen for over 50 years. It was the first time I had seen her since the tragic, and horrific loss of her parents. I'll spare her the pain of discussing the details but write instead that the way they were lost is hard to even conceive. The circumstances behind their death could be seen as crushing.  That is, if you LET it. But she won't. She is determined not to! She is not immune to the pain, I see it in her eyes. But it is not the greater part of her. And it won't become so. She will not let their death define her life! She is doing everything she needs to do to heal - she is HERSELF. She has always been a thoughtful, giving person, with a biting and acerbic wit. This has NOT changed. Her Facebook postings continue. And they don't dwell on her pain, hurt, and anger (although in private conversation she does not shy away from discussing them). No. They are, instead, filled with the wit and insight that she has always displayed. She is, in a sense, starring down her 40 ton tank, without flinching. I think that she understand that TIME does heal. But she will not WASTE it, either. This, my friends, is courage.

Most of us will not be in situations like "Tank Man" and, so, will are left wondering would we be, could we be, as courageous as he? It's much more likely that we will be confronted with the more ordinary challenges (although Karen's situation is really anything but "ordinary") that life provides us on a daily basis. If we refuse to allow adversity to define us, if we have courage in the face of our trials, as Karen does, we will be worthy human beings - as Karen most certainly is.  Thank you, Karen, for teaching us our Moment of Zen.

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