Thursday, August 19, 2010

Thin Lines

One of the most interesting things in life is the margin between one extreme and another. I believe that it is more commonly referred to as a "thin line" because at various times in my life I've been accused of walking it. I used to think of it as a tightrope that had to be precariously balanced...with pleasing others on one side and pleasing myself on the other. Of doing the right thing or doing the wrong thing. I used to believe that it depends on the situation.

I no longer do.

Oh, there are thin lines that have been wide enough to run a Freightliner on and others that are almost invisible. The trick is being able to figure out where the line actually is and then trying to stay on the right side of it lest you be smited.

Some of us were born with an absolute inability to know when we are headed for trouble. Others seem to have an inner intuition about bad situations and pull the ripcord at just the right moment. The rest of us lie somewhere in between in one of the foxholes of life. Maybe we spend an extraordinary amount of time forgiving ourselves for being different. Or we have to heal from mistakes made because we were ignorant of the law of cause and effect.

Sometimes we just never knew that such a line existed.

Since I am generally prone to being in the outfield turning cartwheels when I'm unexpectedly getting closer to the edge of reason, I understand when people sometimes mess up by ending up in enemy territory. And then there are those times when we think that all is well and suddenly we are transported to a place that we'd really rather not be...and certainly don't want to stay. We just need a guide to get us out...and to reassure us that everybody misses the mark from time to time.

See, contrary to popular belief, sometimes there is a thin line between pleasure and pain, between happiness and sadness, and between great and tragic. It just tends to vary from time to time and from person to person. And those who instinctively know the right side to be on, who never struggle to figure certain things out, and who have that keen sense of train wreck avoidance...sometimes are blissfully unaware that there was ever a line there at all.

Which is totally awesome for them...but it makes it exceedingly difficult for them to relate to those who are not as fortunate.

Yet, the majority of us know something about thin lines. We know that the difference between sparing someone's feelings and telling a a thin line. We understand that being passionately in love and being a a short distance. We are aware that doing the right thing and throwing somebody under the bus to do another thin line. It all depends on the situation and the interpretation of it. In other words, it depends on which side of the line you are on.

Isn't it good to know that we have a handbook to get us through life? I mean, there are a lot of things that we have to figure out for ourselves, that are personal preferences, or are just not going to go the way that we expect...but for everything else...we're golden. We have the ability to figure out the great mysteries of our lives by just consulting the Bible and accessing an open line of communication through prayer if we are just willing to take the time. Over time, we see the big picture more clearly...and we learn the boundaries and why they are there.

That doesn't mean that we won't make mistakes...we will. It just means that we can get back in the game faster and back on the straight and narrow path instead of the long and winding road.

Much of the time, though, we'd rather try to figure it out in our own strength by walking the tightrope, denying the foot fault, or at worst...staying frozen to avoid impending disaster. In short...we think we know better and we trust our instincts.

You know...those instincts that got us out in the wilderness in the first place. Without a compass...and other provisions.

I've found that when I am in those times when I'm walking a thin is good to check the guidebook. To see what boneheaded mistakes people made that I can benefit from not repeating. To see that failure isn't fatal...and that life isn't always fair. That favoritism exists and can be absolutely random. To know that although I don't deserve a second or third or fiftieth chance...that I may just receive one anyway. That people sacrifice to the point of death so that I can live and move and draw breath with a confidence that life will not always be this hard.

There is a thin life between belief and unbelief. A lot of people that I know choose the latter because they have no real understanding of how beneficial it is to live with the knowledge that makes sense. Sometimes in awful and raw and real ways. And those little details that do not appear to line up will eventually be revealed to us when we are able to process and understand the master plan. Or more specifically...the Master's plan.

At points in time we all have to walk the line...and whichever side of the line we choose to land will determine the kind of life we will have. Other times, we are forced into a path that is not of our own choosing. We know that things should be better...but they are not. We know that we have squandered opportunities and our parents' money. We regret unkind words, bad behavior, and decisions of our youth. Until I got older, I never realized the everybody pretty much regrets something.

And everyone has thin lines of his or her own to walk.

So, get out there and live your life to the best of your ability. You can't do it alone, by the way, just in case you are trying. That's the way it is designed here. All of us trying to figure it out collectively. Consult the rulebook, love with all your heart...and just put one foot in front of the other.

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