The older I get, the more I realize life isn’t always easy. Quite often it is far from easy. It is hard.
Or it can be.
So much is about perspective, yet sometimes we are so immersed in the chaos and disparity of life that we don’t give perspective to the whole much consideration. We feel like crap — how could that possibly change? How can it be any different from what it obviously is?
Many times, most times, it can change. The crap of life can become the caviar, or nearly so, depending on perspective.
How do we see ourselves, our circumstances and our lives? Therein lies the key.
This morning I had a heart-to-heart with myself. (I don’t often admit to talking to myself, but it’s key to my existence right now. Hey, at least I can count on myself to listen.)
Anyway, me, myself and I were engaged in a deep discussion. Those who read this column know I experienced a devastating loss less than a year ago. A loss so significant affects every aspect of your life. I wish it didn’t, but it does. Losing the half to your whole makes you question the very significance of everything.
What does anything mean or matter if the rug can be pulled out from under you at any time without any notice? Why care? Why try?
All legitimate questions. And here’s what I’ve come to believe:
Throwing in the towel, giving up, screaming that life isn’t fair is tempting. Because life isn’t fair. Not for any of us. We all struggle. That isn’t important.
What is important is what we do with our own personal struggles. Do we succumb? Do we let the struggles (in essence) win? Or do we take the road less traveled and persevere? Do we continue to put one foot in front of the other?
Do we choose to see what we still have versus what we have lost? This, my friends, I believe is a key to the future of nearly anyone who is struggling.
And believe me, I’m living it out in real time. Being sad, seeing what I’ve lost is the reality I live every day. Often it’s the first thing I think about each morning when I awaken. I don’t deny that. But I have decided not to let it conquer my entire being and my entire mindset. I can’t shut the pain out completely, but I can realize what it doesn’t accomplish in my life and I can strive for different. I can strive for more. I can strive for better.
To illustrate, I’ll return to perspective. How do I see the world? Do I see:
What I lost, or what I still have?
What might go wrong, or what could be?
The disparity in the world, or the kindness in people?
The falsehoods of life, or the truths I embrace?
You get the gist. Every scenario has more than one possible perspective. Here’s the key: I get to choose my vantage point.
Am I looking at the situation as a victim or a survivor? Do I want to merely exist or do I want to thrive? Is the future something to endure or relish? Do I approach life with sadness or with joy? Do I focus on the love that died or the love that still lives inside me?
I get to choose. Moment by moment.
It isn’t always easy. You can’t smother sadness, put him in a corner and pretend he doesn’t exist. That’s not what I’m proposing.
But you can choose not to let him sit front and center at the head of the class. You can acknowledge him and then ask him to take a seat in the back, while you encourage joy and peace to join you up front. Even if just for a moment.
Deep, devastating grief has taught me that I don’t have the luxury of focusing on next year or next month or even next week. But that’s okay. It’s eye-opening, actually.
How I will feel then is inconsequential in comparison to how I feel today, right now, in this moment.
Because it’s the moments that matter. In our busy, chaotic world we forget that.
Cherish the moments. They are all we have, but that’s a lot, if we see it as such.
See it as such. It’s your choice.
— Pertler is an award-winning syndicated columnist, published playwright, author and member of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists. Don’t miss a slice; follow the Slices of Life page on Facebook.