"The world is so big, so complicated, so replete with marvels and surprises that it takes years for most people to begin to notice that it is, also, irretrievably broken. We call this period of research 'childhood.'
There follows a program of renewed inquiry, often involuntary, into the nature and effects of mortality, entropy, heartbreak, violence, failure, cowardice, duplicity, cruelty, and grief; the researcher learns their histories, and their bitter lessons, by heart. Along the way, he or she discovers that the world has been broken for as long as anyone can remember, and struggles to reconcile this fact with the ache of cosmic nostalgia that arises, from time to time, in the researcher’s heart: an intimation of vanished glory, of lost wholeness, a memory of the world unbroken. We call the moment at which this ache first arises 'adolescence.' The feeling haunts people all their lives.
Everyone, sooner or later, gets a thorough schooling in brokenness. The question becomes: What to do with the pieces? Some people hunker down atop the local pile of ruins and make do, Bedouin tending their goats in the shade of shattered giants. Others set about breaking what remains of the world into bits ever smaller and more jagged, kicking through the rubble like kids running through piles of leaves. And some people, passing among the scattered pieces of that great overturned jigsaw puzzle, start to pick up a piece here, a piece there, with a vague yet irresistible notion that perhaps something might be done about putting the thing back together again..."
A dear friend emailed me the above last week. What strikes me about it is this: "Everyone, sooner or later, gets a thorough schooling in brokenness." My schooling happened from the ages of about twenty to twenty-six and I wouldn't trade those lessons for anything in the world. The people I like best in their world--the kindest, most intelligent, most empathetic people in the world--have all trudged through the muck, and are better for it. And I think if our culture or society or whatever-you-want-to-call-it focused a little less on perfection and the pursuit of happiness at the expense of all else, we'd see that there is a great amount of beauty in what has been broken, in what is broken, it what will be transformed. There is a great amount of beauty and goodness in that which isn't so obvious. So today, let's all celebrate that, shall we? And maybe tomorrow, too. In fact, maybe we can make a habit of it. And start our own quiet revolution.