Sean of the South: Your Life

Sean of the South: Your Life

Words by Sean Dietrich

This morning I started thinking about you. Mainly, I was thinking about what you’re going through right now. Whoever you are.

I don’t know you. I don’t know anything about you. But in a way we know each other because you and I aren’t that different.

True, you probably have better health insurance than I do. And I can almost guarantee that you’re smarter than I am—you’re looking at a 2.0 GPA right here.

Still, sometimes we fools know stuff. No, we might not be good at trigonometry, but even a broken clock tells the correct time twice per day. So here’s what I know:

You will get through this.

Yes, you’re going through a rough patch right now. Yes, you’re wondering what’s around the next curve of the highway, and it’s freaking you out. Yes, everything is uncertain. But you’re going to make it.

You have a serious health issue. A doctor just gave you bad news. Your dad is in the ICU. Your mom is dying. Someone you love is secretly hurting you. You’re depressed.

Or maybe it’s simpler than that. Maybe you’re late on your mortgage, and you feel like you’re drowning in bank notes. Perhaps your kids are making complete disasters of their lives. Maybe you’re lonely.

Either way, what you usually wonder to yourself is why. Why does bad stuff keep happening to you? Why is it that lately your life could be summed up with a Morton Salt slogan?

I can’t answer that. But you don’t need answers right now. Answers wouldn’t help you anyway. None of the answers would even make sense. That’s how life works.

When I was a boy, I remember my mother’s sewing basket. It sat beside her sofa, filled with knitting and embroidery work. One time, I removed a folded-up piece of cloth from this basket and unfurled it. What I found was a tangled mess of knots and clumps of colorful string sewn into the fabric. It looked like total thread vomit.

“What’s this?” I asked.

“Embroidery,” she said.

“It looks like a mess.”

She smiled, took the tangled nest from my hands, and unfolded it. On the reverse side of the fabric was a work of art, expertly embroidered. Vibrant and detailed.

My mother said, “You were just looking at it from the wrong side.”

That’s your life.

Right now your life appears to be a knotted-up mess of linguini. You can see no order, no patterns, no purpose, just thread vomit. But it’s pointless to examine your life from this angle. And it’s an even bigger waste of time to try to comprehend the bird’s nest.

You are not a physicist. Neither are you an art critic. Your job on this earth isn’t to figure stuff out and write a doctoral thesis.

So let your life be a mess. Let it be confusing. Don’t try to interpret it. Let life be a complete shipwreck. Because one day, you’ll understand what was happening here. One day, you will stand on a great precipice and see your life from the reverse viewpoint and suddenly, bam, you’ll get it.

You’ll understand that there were no wasted moments, no accidents, no missteps. Your biography was all mapped out like a great work of craftsmanship.

Not too terribly long ago, I attended a symphony in Atlanta. It was the most high-falutin experience of my life, and I’m pretty sure they didn’t appreciate my NASCAR T-shirt, either.

But anyway, the music was composed by Béla Bartók. And if I’m being honest, it was flat weird. There were about 30 agonizing minutes where the music sounded like the whole orchestra had been backstage popping hallucinogenics.

Soon, I was looking around the concert hall watching guys in tuxedos and ladies in sparkly gowns glance at their watches, thinking to themselves, “I paid money for this?”

But then…

The music came together.

The score changed. The string section played a powerful melody. All the up-bows and down-bows were perfectly synced. Magnificent harmony emerged from madness. The music hit a crescendo and hot tears formed in my eyes. And I realized that Béla Viktor János Bartók was no hack composer.

Someday, when you see your life from the proper perspective, it’ll be like that.

The vision will steal the wind from your lungs. All your mistakes, all your tragedies, all your disasters, meltdowns, failures, heartaches, you’ll see that they were an opus. And do you know what you’ll feel in that moment when it all makes sense?

Love. One day, you’ll realize that a deep love has always been near you. This love follows you. It clings to you like static electricity. It has never left you. Not even for a nanosecond.

There has never been a hole so deep that this love could not find you. No night so cold that this love could not warm you. Even when you find yourself in your lowest pit, the love of The Great Artist is with you.

You will get through this.

That’s not an opinion.