Charles Dickens has given us one of the most famous of opening lines: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, … it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, …” We love it because it’s seems impossible, yet it seems completely accurate. Life is full of contrasts. In fact, it is the bad that helps us savor the good, the cold that makes the heat feel inviting, the dark that drives us to seek the light.
I’ve always tried to make this blog about the literary and about life, at the same time. Charles Dickens has made that easy this week. The last few days have brought to life his words for me. This weekend, due to a driver running a red light, my vehicle was totaled – one side of the contrast. My children, who were in the car, were the other side of the contrast. They reacted with grace, humility, and gratitude for our safety. I couldn’t have been more proud. The driver admitted fault at the scene; however, by way of contrast, when he spoke to his insurance, he wasn’t so forthcoming. (For the sake of not leaving you hanging – the police fortunately had cited him at the scene for running the red light, and there was a witness – case closed.)
To continue this theme – we were on our way to a large service project (for my son’s Eagle scout badge) at the time of the accident. Despite that inauspicious beginning, the project was a huge success. Most of the supplies for the event were hauled away in our destroyed van, but a kind Scoutmaster helped us track down the van and collect all the materials and transport them to the event.
There are many more contrasts that I could list, but it all just illustrates why there are literary works and words that resonate with us. They remind us of real life, but in a way we hadn’t thought of before. We may want to offset a favorite color of ours with a contrasting color, to make it stand out. But do we really treasure the hard moments in our life, because they make the sweet moments that much better? Probably not, but maybe we should. I can’t say that I “like” the difficulties, but I am grateful for the contrast.