Cornucopia, or Trash Can?

A trash can on its side looks a lot like a cornucopia.

A cornucopia stood on its point looks a lot like a trash can.

I struggle, sometimes, to see the cornucopia–to recognize that, whatever happens, things are probably going to be OK. My kids have plenty to eat; we aren’t wearing somebody else’s castoffs; we have a pretty secure roof over our heads; we have reliable cars that will get us where we need to be. Cancer has helped me put all that in perspective. The other stuff–who’s making more money than I am, whose books are better than mine, who has more time at home or a better smartphone–just don’t seem so important any more.

The opposite was true for a long time. I saw the trash can, the world ready to take everything I had at a moment’s notice, telling me I had to fight for everything I wanted. And it was never enough; there was always a reason to want more, wish for more, strive for more. I still don’t count myself as wealthy, but when more was the goal, I never found such a thing as enough. It all went into the trash can, and all that was left was the need for more.

But when the world is the trash can, ready to take everything, joy is hard to come by, joy and trust. The car is nothing but a money sink that breaks down all the time. The water heater is in constant danger of dying, or worse, rusting out and soaking a hole right through the ceiling. Christmas is a season of despair, where all the money (that already isn’t enough) goes to buy gifts for people we don’t really like (because we don’t really trust them).

Deciding to let it be enough, deciding to see the cornucopia, deciding to trust has made all the difference for me. When I let it be enough, I know how I’ll fix the car–and it doesn’t break any more. I know what I’ll do if the water heater goes out–and it keeps going strong. Christmas is an exciting, joyful time; it’s still expensive, but since I’ve decided it’s enough, I look forward to giving those gifts to all the people I didn’t really like or trust before–and wish I could give to more.

The deciding was the key. I don’t have much more than I did before, but as it turns out, it’s enough.

I've been a soldier, a dreamer, a working stiff, a leader. A husband, father, example (good and otherwise), and now a survivor. I write about courage, because courage is what enables us to accomplish the impossible. If you draw breath, I love you. If you love in whatever way seems best to you and want others to love in whatever way seems best to them, I am your ally. If you believe someone is less than you because they do not love the way you do, I oppose you. If you see someone as a threat to be abused or destroyed merely because they do not look like you, or love like you, or worship like you, I am your enemy. I am a joyful and courageous man. And I stand with you who love.