Life In A Meat-grinder

With ABC’s Dianne Sawyer conducting a two-hour interview scheduled to air tomorrow night, stories and pictures of Olympic athlete Bruce Jenner are everywhere online as well as on the front pages of various tabloids. Jenner reached the pinnacle of success, snagging two Gold Medals in the grueling decathlon. Esquire described him as “the greatest athlete of his time.”bruce-jenner-olympics-590rr020410-e1340118588112The picture above shows the young athlete I remember admiring, proudly holding one of his medals. I can’t deny my amazement that this man – and he is a man, no matter what extent his body is or will be mutilated – could be the same individual the news outlets are now covering.

Forty years separated from his last Gold Medal achievement, the recent picture below makes me think of a tortured and lost child, someone so despondent he’s chosen an extraordinary (some would say irrational) path in hopes it will bring him some measure of peace. I look at this second picture and it breaks my heart. How does an individual arrive at this point of utter desperation?Screenshot 2015-04-23 18.26.14Yes, life can be a meat-grinder … even for someone who is perceived to have success, all the perks of a fine life and seemingly not a care in the world. With three marriages and three divorces, Jenner fathered six children but did not (apparently) find the transformative experiences of family suited his neediness.

It’s hard not to think of the words of St. Augustine, who famously noted (in the beginning of his book The Confessions of St. Augustine) “Thou hast formed us for Thyself, and our hearts are restless till they find rest in Thee.” Restless hearts tend to be searching for ??! … we come back to that “God-shaped vacuum” about which I posted here. It seems to me Jenner’s longing is best explained because he’s looking for answers in the wrong places.

Now I don’t mean to offer glib solutions nor do I wish to minimize Jenner’s extreme suffering, but I can’t help wondering how “becoming a woman” is going to resolve his deep-seated problems. He’s still going to have the same brain with the same issues that have haunted him up to this point.

Peace of mind and contentedness aren’t products of the body … but of the soul. It’s clear one can be wealthy and famous and brilliant and highly productive and surrounded by resources but still be a tortured misfit because those external elements cannot feed one’s soul. They only distract and no amount of distraction will keep one’s soul from starving to death. The restless heart is begging:  “Feed me!” The restless heart needs food to nurture the spirit.

When I composed today’s poem, the subject matter came as something of a shock. The grammatical faux pas bothered me, the coarse term for backside annoyed. I set it aside, unsure it would be something I’d post. But each time I returned to it for an edit, I realized it might be useable with some further tweaks.

Usually, if one has to explain a poem, as soon as the explanation’s given, readers tend to bypass. I already know that, but please bear with me. When I chose the title, I knew I was taking a risk that people might trip over what looks like a misspelling of Man Kind. The term kine isn’t used much today, I’m told, but it is the plural term for cows (mature female bovines).

I thought the title fit our twenty-first century confusion about identity. All the discussion of self-identifying as a woman in a man’s body (or vice versa), etc. … do you identify as a man or a woman or a cow? With what part of the LGBTTQQFAGPBDSM distinctions do I (you?) most closely identify?

And if anyone thought all of these distinctions and categorization would miraculously make our lives less like a meat-grinder existence, please raise your hand now. Expect to be appropriately pommeled.


9 thoughts on “Life In A Meat-grinder

  1. I have to pray for the torture that he has had to have suffered over the years to have brought him to this place. I don’t know whether he should thank or curse his last family for his complete emasculation.

    1. Nancy, I almost added one final sentence to my post: Pray for Bruce Jenner! And I think you’ve raised a salient point. How much did his life with the K’s propel him (due to the “complete emasculation” you mentioned) into the spiral he’s now experiencing? So sad.

  2. Great post. Profound.
    There is a vacuum in every human that needs to be filled.
    This is the spriritual vacuum. One also needs to see a purpose in life.
    If one has this emptiness inside him he absolutely cannot fill it with something worldly. Fame, glory, money, prestige, sexual partners, spouses, success, incredible feats, power, perfect physical health, attractiveness or the adoring crowds can do absolutely nothing to fill that emptiness.
    Many who have that emptiness are chasing phantoms (things that they know cannot fill the emptiness). Others take drugs and get hopelessly caught in addictions always looking for the next kick that makes them forget that huge emptiness for a short while.
    Some become slavish followers of new age gurus only to find out that there is still the emptiness inside them.
    I truly believe that some who have everything others can only dream of suffer way more than the the average Joe. They have got to feel more miserable and totally hopeless because unlike the average Joe they cannot have the illusion that all these things that the average Joe yearns for can somehow fill that emptiness.
    All this reminds me of Jesus when the devil tempted him and he answered: “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.”.
    And then satan tempted him by promising him all the kingdoms of the world, which Jesus rejected.
    In the end all this stuff is worth nothing.and there can be no greater happiness than to truly have the spirit of God inside you.
    With the spirit of God a beggar can be more happy than a king and wiser than the greatest scientists and philosophers.

    1. Thank you for your comment. I think you’re exactly right that people who seemingly have everything may suffer even more than ordinary folks. God is always drawing us to Him, no matter what our circumstances, and as C S Lewis said, He shouts to us in our pain. The words of Jesus when He was tempted definitely resonate!

  3. Scatological and carnal – brilliant. You tell it like it is.
    Fallen flesh. Without God we are ALL Bruce Jenner –
    or a cow dropping dung in a field waiting to become hamburger meat. Bravo.

    IMO this is one of your best – but also most raw.

    1. Thanks for your encouragement! I’m rarely comfortable with raw but this one demanded an audience. And how I agree with you that “without God we are ALL Bruce Jenner.” The more I grow in Christ, the more I realize what a wretch I am. Thanks again!

      1. I’ll be honest – today I was discouraged that I had so few views. I was worried about posting things too “carnal” when the joke is on me since (today at least – as of now) less than 6 people are even checking my stuff out. LOL !
        I would actually rather have one real person interacting with me on the subject of my/their poetry than a multitude of “likes” from blog-bots.

        1. Yes! I agree. Your encouragement is genuinely appreciated and even though it’s hard sometimes NOT to focus on the hits, we need to keep our focus elsewhere. Keep going back to the question of why we’re writing — for the praise of men or the glory of God?

          No question it’s a boost when there are lots of “likes” or oodles of comments. (I am woefully lacking in both.) But I would write (and post) regardless so what am I worried about?! Thanks for being there!!

Comments Are Always Appreciated!