“Everything always works out for the best,” he said.
I can’t remember what I asked him about, but I’m sure I was seeking advice about something I considered an immanent catastrophe or a disaster in the making. My father was being his usual easygoing self, relaxed, taking joy in simple things, each moment an opportunity to be real and solid. The coffee in his cup, his threadbare undershirt and his favorite chair were his tea, saffron robes, and temple. He was a Presbyterian on census forms and dog tags, and that’s what he’d say if you asked him to state his religion. But in reality, and what he honestly didn’t realize, was that he was a down-home Taoist, a cornbread Confucius, a Buddha in boxer shorts.
“Maybe not in your lifetime, maybe not the way you want it to, but eventually everything always works out for the best. How could it not?”
I looked back at him as if he was nuts. Teenagers always look at parents as if they’re nuts. But then people usually look at visionaries as if they’re nuts until said visionary is proven right. And now, looking back, I see that the old man was once again on target. I can’t even remember what had been worrying me so badly that day. Whatever it was, it was inconsequential, and it worked itself out for the best on my timeline. Win a few, lose a few.
I see now that we are all doing the best we can with what we’ve got, from the invisible bacteria on my keyboard to the fish in the sea, from the squirrels in my backyard to the teeming billions aboard floating island Earth, from one end of the cosmos to the other. Things eat other things, things make friends with other things, things mate with other things and create new things. Stars are born, shine, grow old, and die. We’re all making the best decisions we can, working the biggest puzzle you can imagine despite the fact that we can’t seem to put our hands on the stupid box. Once in a while we fit a couple of pieces together and it feels good. Other times life’s a jumbled mess.
Only an idiot blames the puzzle when nothing seems to fit.
My old man was right. The secret is trusting that all the pieces are there and that, in the fullness of time, they’ll fit together into the prettiest damned thing you ever saw.