The Original MAJ (1945-2019)

This has long been a blog about a mania for insisting that everything is good.  


The Original MAJ (1945-2019)
c. 1964
Of course, I haven't blogged in lit'rally YEARS.  I've spent all my time posting pics on Insta and enjoying my racing and training (after I stopped opining about it all day long,  I achieved a small amount of success. Who knew.)  

But this week we lost the matriarch of my family, The Original MAJ.

A lot of people think that my social media moniker refers to me.  But it's always been my personal tribute to my mom (my initialsake, The Original MAJ).

So, about this "mania" crap. Voltaire’s famous satire Candide chronicles the adventures of a paranoid pessimist, Candide, and a persistent Pollyanna, Pangloss. Candide is constantly thwarting Pangloss and his sunny views; his trademark expression is: optimism is a mania for insisting everything is good when we're wretched.  

The Original MAJ was a Pangloss. She battled two different types of cancer, for 7 years straight.  She was once given 6 months to live; she lived more than 3 years after that prognosis.  But, up until her last few weeks on earth, she clung fiercely to her faith and insisted that this was the "best of all possible worlds," and that "God's got it under control."

(Side note: I respect whatever religion/power you do or don't believe in; Mom was a German Lutheran who clung to unwavering faith in her God and her religion.  Whether that is for you or not, no worries.)

You know my story by now, but if you don't, Cliff's notes: about 10 years ago, through a series of events both in and out of my control, my life and my health spiraled downward. Everything from divorce to illness to homelessness to financial ruin to cancer - basically, everyone's worst nightmares - happened to me . . . . all at once. I suddenly found myself broke, sick, struggling, and incapable of maintaining any of the elements that once made my life so amazing and adventurous and positive. I became petty and sad and tired.

I became a Candide.  And all I wanted in life was to be a Pangloss again.

Literary geniuses: I understand that Candide was a satire, intended to mock the Pollyannas of Voltaire's day.  But I do not mean anything about this satirically: my mom was the most positive person that the Lord (or whomever) placed on this earth.


My mom NEVER lost that optimism.  She never stopped believing that everyone had good in them. She never stopped believing that God would call her home at EXACTLY the right time.

The day she passed, I'd been sitting at my desk staring aimlessly at my lap, alternating between crying and feeling relieved that Mom was no longer in pain.  Out of nowhere, I remembered Mom telling me: "in times of need, just open your Bible with that need on your heart, and you'll open it to exactly the right verse." 

So that day I decided to humor her: I went to the bookshelf and extracted the family Bible, which is from the 1940s and King James version (Mom's favorite). 

After a few moments of fumbling, the crumbly tome fell open to reveal a tattered ribbon, barely still attached, nestled between the pages of The Gospel of St. Luke.  My eyes traveled to the bottom of the page, Luke 20:36, where I read: Neither can they die any more: for they are equal unto the angels; and are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection.


I left it, sitting on my living room table, open to that page, for the next 4 days.

I don't know when (or if) I'll write again, but I came back to update this blog because I own the URL, and always will (in Mom's memory).  And I laughed when I read my "origin story."  Because now, with Mom gone, the origin story of this blog has become the mission of my life.

Exactly as it was the mission of hers.

To that end, the ultimate, absolute, final goal is to take every experience, every feeling and make something constructive and positive of it - no matter how bleak, bitter, or dark it may seem.

So, here's to embracing that mania for insisting everything is good.

Here's to The Original MAJ.

For what it's worth: it's never too late to be whoever you want to be.

For what it's worth: it's never too late to be whoever you want to be. I hope you live a life you're proud of, and if you find that you're not, I hope you have the strength to start over. (Eric Roth)

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