We humans are resilient beings. Even when tragedy strikes, we recover – bruised and battered and often in deep pain – and we go on, those of us they call survivors.
Write your life story, they tell me, because your life is a novel. No, it wouldn’t sell because no one would believe it. Yet other people’s stories are far more searing and no one believes theirs either or they do believe them and turn away. Everyone has a story but too many expect those stories to be pretty. At very least we should be enormously grateful for our own blessings when we read or hear what other people are going through.
Days come of course when writers just feel like curling up in a corner with a blanket over our heads. The short story, the homework assignment, and the sales brochure will just have to wait. Somehow we get past those mornings (or whenever the mood hits) with inspirational readings, prayers, and envisioning our future if we push forward, as well as our future if we just sit there. Nothing will ever change unless we take action to make it so. We need a vision of what we are going to be. We keep going and if we’re writers, we keep writing.
Finally, we decide we’re worth something and so is our future. We set about preparing to handle the next crisis or the next tempest in a teapot whichever it turns out to be. Most often it’s a tempest in a teapot, some small event that got blown all out of proportion. The working world and the volunteer world are full of those, usually because an associate triggered the entire scenario after getting up on the wrong side of the bed. But we keep going. (There’s a great explanation and history of “wrong side of the bed” for kids and grown-ups at Wonderopolis.)
Slings and Arrows
Even when we wonder with Hamlet if the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune are worth putting up with, we somehow find a reason, any reason, to keep going, to keep writing. It doesn’t matter if our reason meets with the approval of other people, unless it’s a criminal reason and then it does matter. If that’s the case, we need to seek professional help for ourselves pronto. God put professional helpers on earth to actually help when we can’t do things on our own. And yes, I’ll be the first to admit that sometimes their so-called help can be awful when licensed practitioners betray their profession and do irreparable damage, such as over-prescribing drugs. Stuff happens that should never happen in this world of mostly caring human beings.
We’re told that all hardships strengthen us and make us better able to jump aside when the next train comes roaring out of the tunnel at us. Whether we recognize that truth depends a lot on what else has already hit us. Since very few people know all those details, it’s better not to preach at someone who just got slammed again. It isn’t necessarily their fault, though it may be. We probably don’t really know, in spite of pretty obvious clues. Plus it may be years before we ourselves realize that a jerk actually did us a favor because we can now smell their kind sniffing around and know how to kick them away.
Eventually, things do get better for most people, and they get better because someone cared enough to help them, even in a small way, or to withhold criticism instead of tearing them down further. Do you know how much good a smile or an “I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to be in the way” can do for someone struggling through the supermarket, trying to afford the eight items on his list? Or the 20 items if there’s a family to feed? Someone actually greeted him as a fellow traveler instead of acting like he’s a turd on the sidewalk.
We try to remember the cheery things that lifted our spirits when we get snarky emails, the way sour letters from crabby aunts used to arrive. They always managed to get their “facts” backassward, too.
We keep going even when we don’t really want to because we’re determined not to let the other side win. We ignore the naysayers and the mockers and the control freaks. We develop our own self-esteem or recover it as needed after attacks. We plan our exit from intolerable situations.
While everyone needs a dose of humility in our outlook on life, no one needs humiliation. We soft-pedal when a co-worker is walking the hairy edge of a nervous breakdown but we speak up when we see others being snarled at. If high-school dropouts insult us older folks, we snap back right then if doing so won’t make things worse. Otherwise, we bide our time, knowing they’ll “get theirs” when they go after the wrong person.
The joy of sweet revenge is that we don’t have to do anything ourselves to bring it about. How many times have we seen someone cut off their nose to spite their face, over-reacting to a situation that harms them more than the person who ticked them off or the third party who caused it all? All we need to do is just stay on the path to reach our own goals, lifting others along the way. We need to keep going, to keep writing.