I wrote the first version of this in early 2002, and the most recent version of this in 2007 (the version below is that last version). I saved it because I knew I’d want to revisit it. And here I am.
I’m revisiting this at 45. I’m still just as lost as I was then; if not moreso because I’m older, and with less time to figure it out. I vacillate between my lack of success against this happiness ideal as either thinking too much or, thinking too much of myself. Both are my own failures.
I am coming back to this concept during these times because maybe more than anything, I realize that the person who needs faithpatches is me? I had grand plans for this concept as a way to communicate the power of small good things as ways to start patching tested and even challenged faith. Now, at 45, I realize at least one thing: I’m the only one I know who needs patching.
Everything below is where the concept originated:
In 1999 I was a little more innocent and frankly, life just felt right.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) went up almost 2,000 points that year. The Yankees of New York and the Braves of Atlanta, the two most prominent baseball teams of the 1990’s, met in the decade’s final World Series to settle the debate around which team would be crowned the decade’s indisputable champ (“The team of the 90’s”). The public’s national security concerns were focused on a PhD from China named Qian Xuesen and a “spy scandal”.
And most importantly, even when things were going wrong, we had the confidence that things would end-up, right.
We had faith.
And then things changed and the world started to feel a bit “off”. We had a presidential election wrought with failed processes. The DJIA has since spent years working its way back over 10,000, forget about approaching its peak at over 11,800. New national security concerns arise on what seems to be a daily basis, and the spy scandals we talk about today involve our own government ‘spying’ on its own people.
And no human being alive on September 11, 2001 will ever fully recover from the affects of that day’s events. Ever.
Life had gained momentum, but in a very different direction. Now, when things go wrong, we still have confidence. We have confidence that things may actually get worse.
We have started to lose our faith.
Faith is a term which has been hijacked by the religious (right, left, center, anywhere). [You may alienate a large number of people with this language. I agree that religion has no real bearing on your book, but I think this book may speak well to many religious people. You may want to soften the language so as not to send them packing early] When I considered the title of this book I struggled with the use of the word ‘faith’ and what it would inevitably connote. Considering its etymology, the word faith is derived from the Latin fides, which according to Mirriam-Webstier, is “akin” to the Latin word for trust, fidere. Definitions abound, the word faith universally implies a confident trust in some thing, some value, some belief. Whether that trust is codified in spiritual texts or social contracts is irrelevant. Faith, in its purest form, identifies the confidence with which we trust whatever we are accepting (or want to accept) as truth.
When those planes struck the World Trade Center (the second plane striking right before my very eyes) they pierced through glass, concrete and steel. We have all seen the pictures. We have all watched the replayed broadcasts on TV. But something more serious was pierced that Tuesday morning.
Our faith. Not a religious or even spiritual one; simply, our faith and belief in one another. Human faith.
In his book “The Protean Self: Human Resilience in an Age of Fragmentation”, Robert Jay Lifton introduces the concept of “The Protean Self”, based on the Greek sea god Proteus, a god capable of adapting and modifying his form. The term Protean has since come to mean the ability to exhibit diversity and reflect variety—versatility. Lifton’s analysis was stimulated by a catalyst similar to that which inspired this work in-front of you. His goal was to analyze human resiliency in the face of ever-increasing uncertainty; life blossoming squarely in the face of a force working so hard to stifle it.
“The protean self emerges from confusion, from the widespread feeling that we are losing our psychological moorings. We feel ourselves buffeted about by unmanageable historical forces and social uncertainties. Leaders appear suddenly, recede equally rapidly, and are difficult for us to believe in when they are around. We change ideas and partners frequently, and do the same with jobs and places of residence. Enduring moral convictions, clear principles of action and behavior: we believe these must exist, but where? Whether dealing with world problems or child rearing, out behavior tends to be ad hoc, more ore less decided upon as we go along. We are beset by a contradiction: schooled in the virtues of constancy and stability—whether as individuals, groups or nations—our world and our lives seem inconstant and utterly unpredictable. We readily come to view ourselves as unsteady, neurotic or worse.” (Page 1, Chapter 1)
It is impossible to argue with human resiliency. It is prevalent, but it is not absolute. Our faith, too, is subject to similar bounds. Human faith is a powerful, radiant fabric which surrounds and protects the human spirit. It is supple, it is flexible, it is unsettled—but it is not impenetrable. Our faith can be pierced, the fabric can be punctured—but it can also be repaired. Our faith can be fixed, can be made whole again—but sometimes we need help.
Sometimes we need faith patches.