“I am not what has happened to me. I am what I choose to become.”
Sometimes life can be rough, or even down-right mean. That doesn’t mean we have to reflect those events in our daily life. Seemingly, that is the easy road to travel. This thing has happened to me, so I can never smile/love/trust again. All, or most, of us start down that road when something horrible happens to us.
Luckily, we realize sooner or later that we don’t have to travel that bumpy, pot-hole filled road. We can decide whether we want to keep blowing out our tires or whether we’d rather drive on a road that is smooth with beautiful scenery on both sides. The change is usually slow because we tend to slip off the highway and back onto the bumpy road. Then we have to decide if we want to stay there or focus on getting back on the highway again.
Let me give you an example. Back in the late 1970s I worked in Unemployment Compensation. One day I was assigned to the in-take desk. An angry young man came to apply for benefits. We went through the usual format: name, address, etc., then we arrived at the big question: What are your job skills?
“I know how to kill people.”
Where did you last work. What was your job specialty?
“Artillery The Army didn’t teach me any job skills. They taught me how to kill people.”
So you learned mechanics and physics to figure out your trajectory.
“No, I learned to kill people.”
And so the conversation went for a few minutes. Finally, I wrote on his form, “U.S. Army Artillery, mechanics and math.”
I never saw him again. But even after all these years I think of him often and hope that he was one of the lucky ones who found their way back to “normal” after a horrendous experience. Normal is probably the wrong word to use here. Often normal means beaten up by life and holding on to sanity by a shoestring.
After years of grasping the shoestring, now I try to be grateful for all that happens to me and my loved ones. Sometimes it takes a little while to get back on the gratitude highway, often straddling the two roads for a time, but eventually I get there. I’ve learned that I can change nothing if I’m stuck in a rut. I have to get back to the highway if I want to make changes in my life or help someone else.
Today Martha Beck wrote in her message that it is time to change from paranoia to pronoia, or thinking that all is fine, no matter what life is throwing our way..
Thank you for the people who bring sage advice that can make our road a smoother ride. Thank you for giving us the ability to think through all the advice we receive and decide which path will lead us the to the gratitude road. Thank you for giving us the options to travel the bumpy or the smooth road. Thank you that we are alive today, no matter what pot-holes we are facing. Thank you for hope.
And so it is.
© by Sharon Dillon, October 13, 2014
Chesapeake Bay Writers, Erma Bombeck Writers Workshop, Southern Humorists, National Society of Newspaper Columnists
Author of one of 14 stories in The Book of Mom: Reflections of Motherhood with Love, Hope and Faith, published by booksyoucantrust.com. Available in print and e-format at Amazon.com
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