Early in our lives everything seems possible. The world is a big wide wondrous place and our minds are full of dreams. What we’ll be, where we’ll go, who we’ll marry. Life is an empty canvas waiting for us to apply the brush strokes as we wish in whatever colors or patterns we wish. And then somewhere along the way things begin to change. A grandparent dies or parents divorce. It’s the first blow, a confusing punch in the mouth. Then come the other issues. For some, it’s bullies at school, being unpopular or struggling with school work. Later you’re rejected by colleges. Work shitty jobs, struggle to pay your bills. Friends die. Life becomes a ledger where you hope to have more credits than debits, but you also realize some people really never even had a chance. Their lives are always going to be in the red. Regardless, the sheen wears off for all of us to varying degrees. Life loses its luster and becomes filled with fear and uncertainty. Fear of dying, financial ruin, losing a child. You continually ask yourself, “What does it all mean?” Some embrace religion. Others reach the conclusion there is no meaning in life except the meaning we give it. It’s just all atoms and molecules and a brief astonishing moment of consciousness.

For some children, that window of hope and dreams is very short. Perhaps even non-existent. Which is why crimes against children are so horrible. It robs them of their brief moment of contentment and wonder and casts them into the bitter inescapable world of adults way too soon. It’s truly paradise lost.

But along the way there are also bright lights. It’s these lights that help us get through it all. Falling in love. The birth of a child. Enjoying the flowers in your garden. Reading a great book. Seeing your children do well or even something small like laughing at a comic. Your loving spouse baking cookies. Being with a person that encourages you or that helps you when you’re down. If we didn’t have these lights life would be impossible and unbearable. They help us once again feel the promise and hope we felt as children. They help us face the world in the morning, put our clothes on and get out the door.

Today, you’ll meet someone deep in the red. They’ll be ready to give up hope. You probably won’t know who it is. Everything on the outside may appear fine, but on the inside, they’re torn to pieces. Death will appear to be life’s greatest gift, so a small kindness could mean everything.


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