Question of the day

Maybe you are like me and you are like most of us and so you imagine that your looks and your brains and your accumulations matter. Sometimes this works well for us, because if nothing else we can imagine the strangers we pass on the street are slower-witted, less noble, less burdened by uniqueness. We can tell ourselves this about every stranger we see, because we are accustomed to imagining that we are smarter or more prescient or more feeling than most, which is a stupid assumption because we haven’t met most people, or even a fraction of some people, and so we have a misshapen and narrow-headed view of what it means to be special.

But we are used to being smarter or prettier or more charming, and this sustain us, except when we find ourselves in the company of brainier and sexier people, people who are charming and witty and who likely never have to ask themselves how they will pay next month’s credit card bill if they buy that gorgeous watch in the Anthropologie catalog.

Then we are run aground, we are gutted on the Colosseum sand, we are denuded and deflated and we see ourselves as very, very small things, as imperfect things, as creatures who will never, ever live up to the images we conjure of ourselves in our most deluded moments.

But the thing is, none of us will heave his corpse, in that last day, onto the same scale. You have the life that has unfolded for you, and I the life that has unfolded for me, and all of us have a very simple and terrifying responsibility, which is simply to answer the question, as Victor Frankl would say, that our lives are asking us. You wake up each day or night and you answer your life’s question. You answer it in cold truth or in warm love or with a craven lie, but you answer it all the same, because only you can answer it, and whether the charming genius with the beautiful Anthropologie watch could answer it better than you is no matter, because he has his own question to answer and it is very, very different than yours, and likely you should thank God it is his question to answer and not yours, because who among us can know, in the dread dark of night, the terror that presses down upon another man’s chest?

Maybe you’ve never answered the question well, in all the days of your life. How will you answer it today?


  1. Trisha Niermeyer Potter

    That’s so true. Often we assume that others are happier and more content than we are, but when we let our guard down enough to be vulnerable to others, we see that they also have patches of their lives that feel very much like spots of quiet desperation when their Anthropologie watch seems to move slower than usual.

  2. Pingback: On the scales, at the end | TechnoChitlins

  3. Richard Barry

    Until you reach the age or the maturity (not the same) when the opinion of people you don’t know maters very very little and the opinion of those who love you matters eminently.

  4. cheddar

    Ok, I don’t know how to answer the question. But regarding the first few sentences — I don’t think that I am more special or more intelligent that others. However, I sure think my kids are more special. I sometimes wonder how others can parent such ordinary kids. Is this normal?

  5. Marc V

    Cheddar: I actually have a “fear” (maybe great concern would be a better word) of my kids not being extra special. I know it’s in them and it should come out, but have I as a parent failed? My wife agonizes over our kid’s behavior, how they don’t seem to behave as well as those “other” homeschooled kids, that it’s somehow her fault.

    I have to remind her they are who they are, that the best we can do is discipline/correct on the spot (sometimes tough to do) and keep loving on them. There is no Lake Woebegone.

    Tony: Midlife can be a real “hmmm” sometimes, eh? Especially when the Lord throws you a few curveballs after you’re already juggling a few others. I’m going through some post-election angst now, as I’m not sure what kind of country we will be living in 4 years from now, if the sloths and leeches finally drain the pond and the .gov goes the Roman empire way.

    I feel like I have the talent and experience to work most anywhere, but maybe not making all that much. Can I get out of debt someday? Will I ever be able to retire? I’ve never been driven to make max income, and I wonder if I should have emphasized it more.

    Ah well, Matthew 6:25 … let someone else worry about it.

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