I read this article today about addiction wrpt the late Philip Seymour Hoffman, and there was a good phrase in there that rung out about life lessons that gave me pause. Addiction aside, I pondered the following statement and finished it differently.
“…to believe that if we try hard enough, if we care about other people enough, if we are smart enough, we can avoid…” failure, disappointment, abandonment, etc.
I’d never quite captured this perspective on myself until I read that statement and followed it with my own thoughts, including reflections on hardships, drugs and perseverance.
During my evolution as a person, I came to believe, or rather wish, that this was all it would take to prevent bad things from happening to me. This may have been a valid position to hold when I was young and probably worked for me then, too, but it is a bit of a fairytale to hold onto, now. Wishing for change, hoping for someone to save me, never worked in the past, therefore, I began putting all of my efforts into being good, the best I could be…to not give a reason for bad things to happen and yet, sometimes they still would.
As we should all have come to understand by the time we hit adulthood, the bottom line is that bad things will happen. It’s inevitable. We only wish that on that scale we don’t have to deal with really bad things like the untimely loss of a loved one, poverty, sickness, unusual cruelty, etc.
While there is a bit of luck in the draw for what comes my way, there is also a lot about my direction and mindset that can influence and even change how difficult situations are handled. I’m not talking about grief, I’m talking about the ability to differentiate a situation as not being about who I am as a person, or what I do/did, or how I am good or not good at something.
When I hear people talk about mental health, this is what I want to be talking about. The ability to recognize our contribution to our daily satisfaction in life. Followed by our ability to distinguish those aspects of life that are not about us. To tap into the root of who we are and take satisfaction in where we are in our journey of life. The weight of the world does not lie on any one person’s shoulders. And, perseverance is only a temporary solution to getting through tough times.
People make mistakes, get depressed, have sadness, get angry, frustrated, picky, dissatisfied, and so forth. It’s all part of the beauty of being human. But to fool ourselves into thinking we can’t be better or that these aspects of our human nature won’t be played against one another, is also a fairytale. We are never too old for introspection, reflection and change. We are capable of handling so much more than we give ourselves credit….if we allow ourselves the space, time and patience.
I know things get hard. I have definitely felt like I’d lost everything at one time, felt a lack of support and wondered why it all matters anyway. It doesn’t, matter that is, unless you want it to…and drugs and alcohol are too easy to hide behind, distorting one’s ability to think clearly. Sometimes the idea to just get up, get dressed and greet the day seems unfathomable but that is what life is about…our ability to do this. Sometimes we can be surprised at what a day can bring, in a good way.
There is light in this tunnel of life but we have to create it and nourish it with what matters to us. That is the only hope there is. That is the only strength to cling to, especially when it feels like all is lost. This is an ability we should strive to enrich and know that no matter how many times it feels like we are starting over, it’s not really from ground zero.
I guess, in parting, my final thoughts on this are that we do the best we can with what we got and sometimes it’s still not going to be good enough. That is life. If you want out, go, but this is the only shot you get to experience the myriad of pleasure and pain that comes with living.
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