In Praise of Catastrophe

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William Blake

“The human soul is a living paradox — neither a predetermined personality nor a completely open possibility. The point in this life is not simply to “become somebody,” but to become who we were each intended to be when we first entered this world. For each of us has the most to give and contributes most meaningfully when we become who we were intended to be from the beginning. That is the inside story and the hidden message that has been etched upon each soul.”

- Michael Meade, “The Genius Myth”

“That which does not kill us, makes us stronger. Friedrich Nietzsche

There is something seeded in each of us, waiting to be awoken, ready to lead us on the path to our true identity and our true purpose in life. — Michael Meade

If I hadn’t had an envious and resentful brother who wrested power of attorney from my mother to cancel my inheritance I would not be living in Mexico. If he had not canceled a legal agreement with my father to finance our family home in Austin, I would not have had the idea to leave Austin for France. My reactions to each catastrophe for me and my family led not to a smaller life but to a larger one. Each stage required me to step up my courage, required me to dig deeper into my strengths and talents.

I don’t know why I couldn’t access those traits in myself without those misfortunes. I guess I was too willing to take the easy path and rest on my laurels.

Now I’m in Mexico and I am rebuilding myself, using talent, knowledge and a barely sufficient financial base. When we arrived in France in 1992, we spent two decades wrestling with a three hundred year old house to bring it up to date. It was a huge physical undertaking and meant learning a lot of building skills.

This present project has similar challenges. My physical fitness for one, which has slipped alarmingly in the last few years. I’ve also set myself the task of learning to write. Spanish is still waiting in the wings for proper attention. My desire to draw and paint is returning. You see what I mean? My life is another big construction site.

Would I have arrived here without my catastrophes? I doubt it. I don’t know if I’m at the point where I can thank my brother for trying to destroy me, but I probably should.

Thinking over these events leads me to the idea that they were fortuitous catastrophes, that they were needed to break open the seed of my best talents and personal strengths. I was going to live my life on inherited money and on the surface of myself. Things have been stripped down to the basics now, right down to the essentials — love and my personal inborn mission in life.

Can there be a more lucky break?

I occasionally write fiction and also about creativity, loving, language learning and travel. I’m a longtime painter and reader.

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