Stay Gold – A Personal Sentiment by Chris Markowski
I Cannot Thank You Enough.
I hardly ever post anything on my personal Facebook page, aside from some yearly family photos or an occasional Proud Dad moment accomplishment from the kids. However, I have always loved logging on to see what the people that I have shared time with, and have impacted me throughout my life are doing. It makes me so happy to see people do well. For their kids to grow up and succeed; and yes, even the vacation photos!
Unfortunately, for whatever reason the various social media outlets have seemingly transformed over the past few years to that evil pink slime from Ghostbusters 2 that ran in the sewers below New York City. If you are not familiar…it put off negative energy and got everyone fighting with one another.
The pain from this past week can best be described as what it would be like to be punched by Mike Tyson every five minutes or so. The ancient Greek playwriter Aeschylus wrote…
“There is no pain so great as the memory of joy in present grief.”
I am not sucking up to my wife and her side of the family in saying that those ancient Greeks were pretty smart. (sorry honey…modern Greeks too.) I do have to admit almost feeling guilty over feeling horrible right now. Currently, there is an underlying narrative in our culture concerning privilege. Who has it? Who doesn’t? I have to say that I was the beneficiary of the greatest form of privilege…
I don’t have bad memories of growing up. Right now, it feels as if scores of file cabinets are being turned over in my mind spilling out all these episodes of laughter and joy, and boy does it really hurt. My parents were beyond exemplary and I work every day to meet their standard.
Trying to live up to my Dad’s standard often feels like Mission Impossible…always happy, always a smile, could find humor in anything, never did I ever hear him say an unkind word about anyone, he had a lightness of being that was so warm and peaceful that I do not have the words to describe.
Author Naseem Nicholas Taleb speaks of a concept termed anti-fragile. Being fragile, is not ideal. Fragility means you will break under hardship and stress. One might consider the opposite of fragility being robustness. In other words, the ability to withstand obstacles, hardship and stress. Taleb argues that robustness is not the opposite. Even a rock will eventually weather and get worn down by water. The true opposite of fragile has no antonym in any known language. Anti-fragile, is where you take all of the pain, the hardship and the stress and use it to make oneself stronger and better.
So that is what I am going to do. I am not going to crater or break, nor I am going to try to withstand the pain. I am going to use it. Use it to make me a stronger, a better man.
Back to the pink slime, or in this case lack thereof…
I cannot thank all of you enough for all the messages of love and encouragement, whether it be social media, text, email or phone. Not only did you lift my spirits and brighten my day, but I shared all of your condolences with my Mom who really needed it.
I would like share a poem.
(FYI…A sentence that has never been uttered by me ever. There most certainly was no Dead Poet’s Society at Guilderland High School or Syracuse. Getting the football and lacrosse team out in the woods to recite poetry was not something we did in upstate New York.)
Here it goes…
Nature’s first green is gold
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.
– Robert Frost
If you recall this poem was used in the book by S.E. Hinton and eventual film directed by Francis Ford Coppola, The Outsiders. The poem has a couple of meanings. The first meaning that wonderful things, beautiful things, good things do not last forever. The other is about the wonder, innocence and joy of life in our youth. My Dad was able to hold on to that to the very end.
Thank you so much for everything.
Stay Gold Everyone!