An Invincible Summer

An Invincible Summer
                In 1958, just two years before his death, the French author and philosopher Albert Camus wrote the famous words. “In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer”.
                I first read those words some years ago when a North Carolina attorney recalled how they helped her cope over the loss of her child.
                In recent days, I have gotten a number of calls and emails from people from different walks of life, in different parts of the country, who are experiencing really tough times. It may be the loss of a friend, a child, a job or career, a family, but in every situation, there is the potential of loss or adversity that seems at the moment to be overwhelming.
                I used to think that I should have titled my book “How to come back after you have really screwed up” rather than the more pleasant sounding “Flame-out”. But then, that was not the focus of my book, Rather I attempted to tell the story of my fall from grace and the immediate aftermath, with the only real thing accomplishment being just surviving.
                Today, I think that before anyone can come back from anything that is adverse, one must first survive.  If you are dreading the weekend, as one friend told me last Friday, I know about bad weekends. And that is that they come to an end, and if you just hold on, you will get through them.
                In January and February of 1993, I found that I dreaded Wednesdays the most. It seemed as though every week there was a Chinese water torture test of drip, drip, drip from the local newspaper with one more story of either what I had done wrong, or what the Bar and government might do about it. 
                But then the stories stopped. The world kept on going, and so did I. I went for long walks, between five and ten miles a day. If my former lawyer career didn’t kill me, the exercise almost did. I began to talk to people, go out to eat with friends, go back to church, watch funny movies or television shows. I learned to laugh again, though not so any one could see me at first. 
                One rainy afternoon, Wade Smith met me on a pre-arranged walking tour through the Lob Lolly Trail at Umstead State Park near Raleigh. He was late, and I was standing there in the light rain waiting for him. As he drove up, I noticed this large hump in the passenger side of the car. He pulled to a stop and out jumped the writer Joe McGinniss, who had flown from New York that day to go walking with the two of us before having dinner at the 42nd Street Oyster Bar. The night was to be my official coming out party. And it was. People came up to me that night at the restaurant and wished me well.
                It was sometime during this time that I came to believe I might survive. I wasn’t thinking about coming back or starting over. I was just trying to get through it all. There would be future bad times for me. There would be more adversities to follow such as Indictment, a guilty plea and finally a relatively short stay in prison.
                However, I had discovered in friendships that were unconditional and faith that was surprising and laughter that was always needed that I would be okay.   I think today these attributes are essential to surviving tough times. 
                There are lots of sayings you can choose as your own. Robert Frost wrote “the shortest way out is almost always through”. Wade once said to me that “truth is the most powerful asset you have – just take care of yourself and your case will take care of itself” and “if you bear a cross with dignity, it will end up bearing you”.
                Still, I think that each person needs to find his or her own way to survive, but what is so important and must absolutely be done is that everyone needs to learn the wisdom of “In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me, there lay an invincible summer”.

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