Let’s say that about 50 percent of my life is Fine, and about 50 percent of it is Not So Fine. Because I grew up in this American culture built on a strange combination of struggle, violence, rightesouness, arrogance, and optimism, I tend to present myself as a person who is Fine. “Everything’s fine.” Yep, things are A-OK. Then there are those times when I can’t hold on to that front, and I rant. Everything is shit. Life sucks. My life is hell. You get the picture.
What if the reality is that 50 percent of the time I’m doing okay, making good choices, and my circumstances are Fine, and the other 50 percent of the time I’m making mistakes, and there are circumstances beyond my control that are just Not Fine? What if I don’t recognize that and instead try to keep up the appearance that Everything is Fine? We call this Denial, which happens with both the Fine and the Not Fine. What I end up doing is waffling between the belief that everything is fine and the belief that everything is Not Fine. And by waffling I mean wallowing, baby. If there is one things we know how to do in this culture, it is wallowing.
What if I walked around knowing and acknowledging and admitting that about half the time, things are Fine, and half the time things are Not Fine. (Okay, at any given point in a person’s life, it could well be that it is not an even half and half split, but on average, let’s just assume, that a person is given a life during which half the time circumstances and choices made are fine.) If I don’t walk around thinking that everything SHOULD be Fine all the time, then I can actually see and admit when I make mistakes, and I can talk about that and try to make amends for it. If I admit that things are Not Fine half the time, then I am also free to see how things ARE fine half the time. And man, what if half the time things really are Fine? Can I believe that? Because when I get into the habit of hiding the Not Fine in my Everything’s Fine front, I might not trust when things really are Fine. If I have to deny when things are Not Fine, then I also have to deny when things are Fine. I might even start constantly looking for evidence that things are Never Fine… and when I look for evidence, I sure can find it, and then it starts looking as if things really are Not Fine. All the time.
What if I could walk around my life knowing that things are Fine half the time? Then, I would really be able to enjoy the Fine things. AND, when things are Not Fine, I could remember that it is only going to be for half the time. This Not Fine time is temporary. That makes Not Fine so much easier to handle. If I am free to see the Not Fine as temporary, instead of a reason to Struggle, then I can operate from a place of not fearing it. If I am not afraid of it, my brain is free to actually think about it rationally and maybe even solve it, or fix it, or deal with it, or let it be. And that makes Not Fine not so Not Fine. Right? So, even though I am still in a life that is 50 percent Not Fine, and I am still making mistakes about 50 percent of the time I have any power to choose, it just doesn’t feel as Not Fine… because I am not letting it feel like it is 90 or 100 percent Not Fine.
So what if my life is really 60 percent Not Fine, and the person next to me happened to be luckier than me and got a 40 percent Not Fine life? So What? If I am rational about it, I will be fine. If I spend all my life trying to hide or run away from the Not Fine, then no matter how little of my life is actually Not Fine… it will still feel like a large percentage of my life is Not Fine. If I am rational about it, and embrace the reality that my life is 40 percent FINE…. Well, isn’t that a beautiful thing?
Now, apply this to the big picture. Let’s say, this nation. On the one hand, we have the whole denial thing going on: everything is Fine… (chant with me) we’re number 1 we’re number 1… And we have the whole Everything Is Crap thing going on. We are so busy arguing over these two positions, in very passionate (read: emotional, irrational, diametric you’re wrong I’m right) ways, that we, as a group, don’t seem to be able to devote our formidable Collective Brain Power to the actual work of making things better, of solving the problems. If you can’t see or admit the difference between what is working and what is not working, you can’t begin to solve problems. If you think everything is Fine, you can’t even see the Not Fine to work on it. And if you can’t see the Fine, well, you are going to either be overwhelmed (and not able to fix anything), or you are going to start trying to fix things that aren’t broken. And all the while, we (collective) are putting up this front… Everything is Fine… we’re number 1 we’re number 1!!!!
Here’s the thing. If I can admit that I make mistakes about half the time I have some kind of power, then I can admit that I could easily be wrong at any point in my life. If I can admit that I could be wrong, then I can admit that my enemy could be right. Then, my enemy ceases to be my enemy. The I’m right, you’r wrong can become “Let’s see.” We become We. All that energy that goes into fighting over who is right about what is Fine and what is Not Fine is freed to be put into actual Problem Solving.
So, my theory breaks down when I start talking about fixing things. Because if we can fix things that are truly Not Fine, that means the 50/50 split between Fine and Not Fine might actually change. It might tip towards a 60/40 split… as in, things will get better. Wait… you mean if we admit the reality of there being things that are Fine and thing that are Not Fine, we might actually have the power to make things better?!??!!!