I’ve been thinking about this quote a lot recently. It is such a good reminder about the reality of our lives. Because the truth is, we always have a bad pile and a good pile. Life isn’t perfect, therefore we’ll always have a bad pile. Even when things are going relatively well, we can always think of things that could be better. And that can quickly grow into a pile of bad things. What are we to do? It isn’t like we can actually make our bad pile go away. We can try to whittle it down, but we won’t be able to sweep it away. And for a perfectionist like me, that’s actually pretty disappointing. Is it ironic that the fact I’ll always have a pile of bad things just adds to the pile? Given all this, I’ve been trying to resolve this issue in my mind. How does one live with this reality?
So I have come to this realization: although both of those piles exist and always will, every moment of every day, we choose which one to look at. We can cradle all the dark and sad things in our hands, until the pile seems to drown us in its shadow, or we can turn to the pile of good things and take each thing in our hands, cherishing its beauty and joy. One of my favorite things is to hold books. I love the sensory experience of paging through a book, it doesn’t matter what kind of book. So I think of it like that…cherishing the bits of my good pile is like sitting down next to my bookshelf and perusing each tome. I can disregard every beautiful and good experience of my life by listing off my inventory of bad things. Or I can just let that pile of bad simply be, while I treasure all the good.
This isn’t a terribly profound thing…the same sort of theme could be found in Philippians 4:8, ” Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Or like the “is the glass half empty or half full?” question. But thinking about the Doctor Who quote, and given the context, it just really clicks in my mind. Van Gogh is one of my favorite artists, and his story of admiring and capturing the beauty of life, despite all that he suffered, is an amazing inspiration to me. His tragic death did not mar the beauty that he found and gave to the world, and rather, I am so thankful that he triumphed against his depression long enough to create the works that we are able to enjoy now. Yes, there could have been more. He could have been saved from committing suicide. His community could have encouraged him and treasured his works. But on the other hand, he could have left the world nothing. There might be no Starry Night. So even in thinking about Van Gogh, there’s an awful lot that we could put into his pile of bad things, but he certain had his own pile of good things, and he certainly contributed much to the world’s pile of good things.
So, what’s in your pile of good things today?