Happy No Matter What

“So, what if the impending tests from the Large Hadron Collider prove my theories to be wrong?” asked theoretical physicist Garrett Lisi. “Then I will simply lean on the non-professional pieces of my life. The only way to be happy is to live a balanced life.”

Lisi’s statement is pretty monumental. Although I used quotes above, I didn’t capture his exact words. But I think I covered his thoughts. They came at the end of a 15 minute presentation of his theories of the existence of comprehensive “E8” structure. With beautiful graphics and well-chosen words, he guided the scientifically-inadequate of us through a wonderful explanation of what he believes will appear when that big apparatus under the Swiss and France border accelerates minuscule particles into a head-on collision. The ten-story “camera” will record what happens. And in a fraction of a section, years of thought and mathematical calculations will be verified or trashed. Or, more likely, remain unproven and trigger years more of ponderance and supposition.

Yet Garrett Lisi says that his reaction even to the worst of results will be simply to go back to the two other things in his life that occupy his time — his girlfriend and surfing. And it’s not that he plans to abandon physics. It’s just that he sees the value of placing bits of his sanity in various baskets.

In recent months, I have experienced setbacks of sorts. Nothing cataclysmic, but certainly events that have shaken me. No one of these was enough to send me to my knees. But collectively, their burden took a toll. And suddenly I was looking in the mirror at someone who was clueless about what to do next. For a person like me, one who prides himself in being in control, it was a frightening sight.

So, for several days, I peered from a single basket and was tired and hopeless. “What else can go wrong?” I railed against the rafters. Anxiety increased. And just about the time I was ready to give in to full-time mourning, I looked around and saw some other baskets scattered around me.

It was when I began to peek in them, that I realized how blessed I was. As the covers came off, I saw the friendly faces of friends and family. In some, the neighborly waves of complete strangers gave me great pleasure.

I then saw that God is in control of my baskets. From time to time, some are upset and become empty. I’m left with the difficult task of picking up pieces and returning them to the basket. And sometimes, when a particular basket not only topples over but rolls away from me in a cosmic wind, I realize that’s not my basket to fill.

In fact, as I take a closer look at all of “my” baskets, I learn that I have filled none of them on my own. They’re not even “my” baskets!

Do you remember the story of Jesus feeding more than 5,000 people with a little boy’s borrowed lunch? Everyone was fed to satisfaction from five loaves and two fishes. That’s amazing. But the true miracle was that there were twelve baskets of leftovers collected that day.

I think it’s possible that all of my baskets are filled with God’s leftovers — and, yet, everything there is infinitely more wonderful than anything I could create or collect or borrow.

And so, I’m beginning to see that I can always be happy — no matter what. For, if one of my baskets is kicked over, God has filled others.

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