What Today Brings
“He who fears to suffer, suffers from fear” French Proverb
I have been suffering from fear as of late. The fear of another broken bone, falling down a staircase or careening off a balcony or pyramid, little irrational fears have taken over my brain. These pesky notions come from my desire to do so many things and I am concerned my body could derail me. My recent fall, caused by a simple loss of balance, resulted in the break of my femur, hip to knee, an injury causing excruciating pain, consequent surgery and a long hospitalization followed by this current struggle to recuperate. I will be stronger than ever in a few months so why do I feel in danger of every other bone in my body breaking?
Fifty-three is young, it seems very young to me. There is so much to see, learn, and experience throughout the fifties, sixties, seventies, eighties and if we are lucky, nineties. Why, all of a sudden, does one sharp pain send me into sobs? Fear. Fear of not being at the end of this struggle but the beginning of another. It’s humbling to feel so helpless in the face of an unknown future.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe said, “In all things it’s better to hope than to despair.” The German author hailed as one of the greatest writers in the world, expressed his evolved ideas through countless works of literature, poetry, drama, science and theology. He coined the phrase, “Weltliteratur”or “World Literature” ignited from his interest in English, French, Italian as well as Greek, Arabic and Persian writing. Goethe was one of the founders of the “Sturm und Drang”literary movement, which translates to ‘storm and drive’ or ‘storm and urge.’
It would follow that Goethe was a man whose experience with agony followed by the yearning to move forward puts my little broken bone to shame. Still his words from the mid 1700’s are comforting and wise. It is always better to hope than to despair, for despair leads to nothing and hope can lead to infinite possibilities.
We are all a product of our time and today’s housing luxuries and bathing conveniences, scientific revolutions and communication breakthroughs are in stark contrast to the days of Goethe. Eighteenth Century Europe was artistically innovative, creating the movement known as The Age of Enlightenment, but it was also a time of widespread social and political fragmentation, war and resistance. Germany in the 1700’s had no planes, trains and automobiles, no court date if someone pillaged your village nor would you have easy access to a hospital if wounded in the street by sword. If you were of another class it was not just tough, you were a slave to the higher order. Unpredictability was an understatement during the fall of the Holy Roman Empire. The assumption would readily be that we have it easy in comparison, so what are we crying about?
Possibly it’s relative, while we have taken giant strides in medicine, science and technology, they emphasized the humanities, making colossal advances in art, philosophy and social consciousness. We could learn from each other, were there ever such a coming together of periods in history. In the meantime, I will take my cue from those heroes of humanity and head their advice. Fear bad… hope good.