“The battleline between good and evil runs through the heart of every man.” Alexander Solzhenitsyn
I love nuts, they make me feel like I have a partially healthy diet. But, take a handful of sunflower seeds that are old and they taste as bitter as betrayal feels. Or spoon them on a salad and it will ruin the whole toss. Besides gorging on nuts and chocolate, part of my holiday is study time for a biology test. When I was in school, you know before the internet and cell phones, cells were categorized by being either plant or animal. Now they are eukaryotic or prokaryotic. The animal cell is in the category of eukaryotic cells.
“The word eukaryote comes from the Greek eu, “well,” and karyon, “nut or kernel,” so eukaryotes have a nucleus and prokaryotic cells do not.
My translation for humans is that we are good nuts, with the capacity to sour. Life is breathed into us and, voila, we’re here. The me that was there, inside the baby girl throwing up with colic for three months for my parents is me. The shy adolescent is me. The closing-in-on-a-half-century divorced woman is me. All the same fundamental nut, haha, yes “everyone’s normal ’til you get to know them.” I need this truth because I get overwhelmed with life and people and situations. I try to recall that my basic essence stays intact. And that being, in and of itself, is an eternally valuable state. We humans judge ourselves on externals so much. Performance, looks, age, health, status, personality, financials, experiences, friends, family, stuff. I need to know for myself that my fundamental value comes from being, not everything else that life piles on top of me. Plenty of the crap I pile on there myself, I need to separate from my essential value. I’m not talking about rationalizing irresponsibility or idiotic behavior, rather, not being overcome by things I have little control over.
Father Stephen Freeman says, “Shame is a primary cause of anger and depression. Something happens and we encounter a loss. We feel unworthy, or detached, or dismissed, or denied, or denigrated, etc. Generally, we react with anger or with depression, depending on many things within us. Both of these reactions remove us from the true burden of our suffering and create inauthentic suffering. Much of this occurs on an unconscious level. Our shame clouds the heart and the mind and we fail to see ourselves and the world as they are.”
If I can see the good nut for myself, to defy inauthentic suffering, maybe I can do it for others too. I’m guessing it only works in close relationships, where someone has shown you the essence of his true self. Who hasn’t allowed the externals of life to turn him into a sour monster. Because we all have the capability of becoming monsters. Even when we value our nutty selves, we will make mistakes and need forgiveness, when the monster capacity is actually at bay. I believe many psychologists encourage us to be aware of the baser traits that can create monsters and instead of becoming one, use them to empower us when we need deep strength.
If my friend with crippling anxiety calls me, I can’t always be there, if I’m dealing with my own messes, but she can KNOW, when I think of her it’s not as someone who is sick or troubled, it’s someone whose essence I see and value.
My friend from the “me too” community says, “it’s not what happens, it’s what you do with it.” She suffered immensely, but faced the damage and worked to overcome it. Eventually she went to the center of her heart and chose to believe that she is intrinsically valuable and not defined by what someone else did. That monster has no place in her current life, which I support wholeheartedly, but also has no control on who she chooses to be. She credits her Creator with bringing her to the truth that she is of His making, not the Monsters.
Helen Keller, the amazing overcomer said, “Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it.” Two beautiful examples how it is possible not to turn sour or become monstrous due to the difficulties of life.