A year ago this week, my life took a giant step back from the brink that was 2015. There were some issues with health insurance that were potentially financially devastating–in particular with my son in his senior year of high school. The day before Thanksgiving, they were resolved in our favor.
There were still a lot of bumps after that, but none of them seemed to be worth shaking my life apart over.
At this point, I must take a small sideways step. Your cross, whatever it is, is hard. It’s not a competition. If it’s hard for you, then it’s hard. This was hard for me, though you may be going through worse now.
It’s not enough to be thankful when your this year isn’t a shitpile like last year was. (Yeah, vulgarity…trust me, if anything, it’s understated.)
Anyone with a soul is thankful when things get better. That’s the baseline. A better question is what did you learn from it all? Everyone has Years from Hell™. They’re typically followed by a figuring out of what comes next.
That figuring-out can take a long time. And the trip back can be uneven. For instance, I can work and function without problem, but after a good start, I had to stop working out. Working out is a tonic for me. There are still bumps after the major bumps end.
So what did I learn in the past year? Some of the answers are obvious; some, not so much.
- I learned that not every day is a gift from God, and that’s okay. God, if you believe in him, probably understands that some days are literally Hellish. I don’t think Jesus was looking at the bright side and saying thank you while he was being tortured to death. Some things you just get through.
- Some days are gifts from God, and they aren’t just the mountaintop days. Working out is a major contributor to my wellness in almost every way. I can do it again, in the way I need to. And for that, I’m once again grateful.
- Hell is a place where you don’t need any help. Because being self-sufficient is bullcrap. This isn’t a political ‘You didn’t do that’ statement. It’s broader than that. The lone wolf is an idiot. You cannot do it alone. Check your ego and let people help.
- The biggest idol many people create looks back at them in the mirror. This isn’t narcisism. It’s more insidious than that. It’s this nagging expectation that (a) perfect is attainable and (2) that we’re responsible for it. Good enough is good enough. Aiming for perfection makes you bitter and lonely. To quote the great Bob Newhart, “Stop it!”
- Unless you are literally saving babies or stopping nuclear war from happening, you aren’t. In most cases, your hell scenario is far bigger in your head than it is in reality.
- Look at your track record. You aren’t perfect. You’re flawed and there are things you’ve done and thought that make you happy no one can read minds. But here you are. You aren’t starving or universally hated. If you weren’t you, you’d probably have some respect for yourself.
- For most people there is more good than bad, even if the good is a pain ass to maintain. Maybe not all of it isn’t worth maintaining.
- Nothing is forever. That one statement helped me on the worst days, days when I couldn’t conceive of the concept of something being better. But it’s true.
- Firefly is brilliant. “If you can run, you crawl, and if you can’t crawl, you find someone to carry you.” Because we’re all here in this together and everyone needs carrying sometimes.
It’s a long list, and there’s some overlap. But it’s my list and it’s what I’m working with.
Tomorrow isn’t guaranteed. On Monday, February 16, 2015, my oddysey began when I tried to do an easy workout and almost threw up. Tomorrow is Monday. Tomorrow I’m doing that same workout. History may repeat.
If it does, that will suck. I won’t pretend to be thankful for it. I’ll stop pretending that what I do is earth-shattering. Almost nothing I do is life-or-death; there’s a freedom in that.
I’ll remember once again that nothing is forever. And if I can’t run, I’ll crawl. And if I can’t crawl–if I can’t do that–I’ll find someone to carry me. Because I know someone will for a time.