It has been nearly three weeks since I last blogged. My journey of the past eighteen days has included many pathways leading to the same major tributary, cynicism. A cynic is one who "is critical of the motives of others, a faultfinder," says worldreference.com.
For months (perhaps years now) I find myself plagued with questions about meaning and purpose. My longsuffering spouse has heard the near-nightly melancholy chorus too much lately. It goes something like this, "I'm not sure it really matters what we do in life. It seems to me that things will be what they will be, whether we do anything about it or not." In particular, I languish in my role as an adoptive parent as I observe the behaviors and responses of our children. When I observe positive, life-affirming actions I think to myself, "Well, they would have done that anyway." And when I experience negative, self-defeating actions I whine, "See. It doesn't really matter. It never did."
Confronted by my wife about my own abysmal thinking, I offer verbal provocation. There is, I tell her, a difference between reality and cynicism. Reality sees things as they are, while cynicism consigns the outcome to defeat no matter what. I can tell by the look in her eye that she is not nearly so convinced as I seem to be; "you are becoming cynical" is the look I receive.
And when she questions why I view the world as I do, I am often bereft of an answer. Don't misunderstand; I am not silent. I offer multiple sentences of reasons why I think the way I do. But these are not answers.
I am beginning to believe that I am less a cynic hell-bound to prove how senseless life can be, and that instead I might be a muse grieving lost time. Especially as an adoptive father I grieve the lost time. I grieve that of our oldest son's nineteen years, we were able to spend less than seven with him in our home. I grieve that we will have few good years with our sixteen-year-old son who has now been out of our home for more than a year, and whose return looks unlikely. I grieve even for our youngest sons, who have been with us most of their lives. What was it like to bring them home from the hospital? Did anyone have a shower for their birthmoms at the announcement of their pregnancies? What was it like to hear their first shrill cry as oxygen coursed through their lungs for the first time?
In the midst of the joy (and there is more joy than I can ever name), who will remember the time that was lost? Who will grieve what could have been and recollect that our children had lives before we ever knew them? Who will step into the mysterious tangle of life we call "family" to identify the residual pain?
And can this task be accomplished without descending into despondency or utter disillusionment? Time, lost and regained, will tell.