Juggling everyday life with some sense of semblance can been challenging enough. But when life hits the fan, that’s when we are really asked to rise to above the chaos.
For those of you who are in the throes of your own struggle, as life assures many of you are, know that you are not alone. Struggle is universal. Whether it’s a mountain or a molehill, real or perceived, we all experience it in its grandiose and oftentimes absurd fullness.
For me, the blanket is just lifting after one of those chapters. About a month after my father’s heart surgery last summer, my mother was diagnosed with cancer. Like so many before us, we rode the psychological roller coaster of surgery, radiation and chemo. To salt the experience, my parked car was totaled in the parking lot during her third treatment. A few weeks later, my father fell on the train requiring 16 staples in his head. Just recently and most deeply heartbreaking, an old friend passed away suddenly and inexplicably only days after his 50th birthday, leaving behind his wife– my friend– and their 3 children. It has been a whirlwind of fear and worry, anger and frustration, sadness, loss and the unanswerable questions of why?
In reality, none of these things actually happened to “me.” Truth is, I was on the periphery of all of it. Recognizing that was helpful, but nonetheless, this series of events challenged my emotional strength. Each of us, regardless of who we are or where we come from, face similar challenges, and many of us are asked to withstand so very much more. Whether it’s happening to us or to those we love, the feelings are real. And the pain and the questions can run deep.
But on the back end of my own personal navigation, it brought to light the power of watching your thoughts. By having a clear perception of what’s happening as it’s happening with a steady heart and mind, tough times can be softened by this awareness. And by remembering the countless blessings of our fortunate lives, this can further file the sharp edges that life promises.
When we find ourselves standing in the murky mess that life presents us, I realized through my own experience, that we have to try to do our best to hover above the madness. Not ignore it, or pretend it doesn’t exist, but see things as they actually are, and not how they feel when emotions rule.
When the storm passes, the calm oftentimes can shed light on what matters most. As the crisp morning sunshine beams in, the warmth of spring signals a new day. And while new obstacles and challenges will most certainly rear again, with it will come new opportunities to observe, learn and grow.