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WHAT'S ON YOUR MIND?

Que Sera, Sera?

31 comments | July 24th, 2012

(by Mir, @ wouldashoulda,com)

I think everyone has at least one friend or relative who plays Buddha. You know what I mean—we all know someone who seems to be in a perpetual state of Zen and acceptance no matter what. And just to be clear, I am not that person. I am never that person. Me, I tend more towards Chicken Little. While the calmer folks are busy "what will be, will be"ing, I'm screaming about the sky falling. Acceptance is not, shall we say, my forte. Never has been.

It's a funny thing about getting older and gaining perspective, though. The older I get, the more things I survive, the more some of those trite sayings that used to make me want to punch people in the face start feeling… true. My latest favorite is, "Everything works out okay in the end. If it isn't okay, it isn't the end." But there's also…
… everything that came before brought me to right here.
… there's a reason for everything, whether we know it or not.
… things have a way of working out.
etc.

Sure, when I'm in the midst of things that make me feel like nothing can ever be good again, I'm more apt to point out that the sky is falling than I am to assume the lotus position and declare that the universe is unfolding exactly as it ought to. It never feels good to deal with stress and unhappiness. The difference, now, is that I can look back on some of the truly awful things in my life and see that I survived and—in many cases—am stronger and/or lucky for it. The trick is to be able to remember that in the midst of unpleasantness.

Sometimes it's relatively easy stuff. Like, I didn't have my tonsils out until I was an adult. Not only was the immediate aftermath of the surgery terrible, I didn't resume feel normal for over a month. It was truly awful, and I felt very sorry for myself, and I had reached the point of "I am never going to be well again" before things improved. But afterward—when I went from having strep nearly constantly to never having it again—it was easy to see that it was absolutely the right decision, with a happy outcome. On the other hand, anyone who's been through a difficult divorce can tell you that it's the sort of thing you don't wish on your worst enemy. During the roughest parts, I found myself wishing I had just never gotten married in the first place. After all, I'm now married to a guy I met long before I ever met my first husband; maybe if I'd just married him in the first place, everything would've been better!

But then I think about the twists and turns that led to where I am now, and I know there's a hundred reasons why it couldn't have (shouldn't have) happened any other way. The reasons start with my two amazing children and end with the absolute agreement my husband and I have about how we were both such jerks when we met, any relationship started then would've been doomed.

Or… a few years back I finally talked my husband into getting a dog. And I found a dog on PetFinder and we went to visit him and he was terrified and basically feral, but a young lady at the "rescue" (I use that term loosely) suggested we foster him for a week to see if he would come around. We took him home, gave him a bath and picked a zillion ticks off of him, and shortly thereafter he slipped through our fence and proceeded to gallop around our neighborhood, evading capture, for about a week before he disappeared from sight entirely. It was traumatic (for me; I think he thought it was a wonderful game). But afterward we did a lot of research, talked to dog expert, found a reputable rescue, and eventually ended up with the lovable mutt we have now—possibly the world's most perfect dog.

What came before, led to now. What is awful now, may shape what comes next… in unexpected and wonderful ways, even.

I may never be the Zen sort. I may always find myself mired in the now when times are tough, having trouble seeing out of the current pit. But if I keep reminding myself of the ways in which past catastrophes have yielded unexpected blessings, maybe I can stop worrying about the sky falling. Maybe I'll be able to remember that, no matter what, the sky does seem able to stay up there where it belongs. Maybe I can, too.

Are you an "everything works out in the end" sort? What keeps you going in tough times?

(for more Mir, go here)
 

31 comments

  • From FLA

    Posted on July 24, 2012

    I sure hope I am an “everything works out in the end” sort :)

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  • L.C.

    Posted on July 24, 2012

    As I’ve gotten older I’ve found myself being less that person then I used to be. Maybe it’s because the “end” is closer than it was and I’m more aware of what perhaps hasn’t worked out quite as I’d hoped.

    I’ve lost a sense of optimism somewhere on this road of life. I miss it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted on July 24, 2012

    I’m like L.C. I used to be and just find it harder and harder to stay so all the time. I hesitate bringing it back to Aurora, but when things like this happen how do we maintain a “it’ll all be okay” posture and perspective?

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  • Jenna

    Posted on July 24, 2012

    I do think things work out as they should, though I am not sure if this means they work out in the end.

    Your story of the feral dog, reminds me of when we got a dog about 10 years ago. She was a beautiful little rescue puppy. We didn’t know it at the time, but she had a touch of pneumonia which probably explains how calm and docile she was then. Once she got over the pneumonia she was pretty much out of her freaking mind for the rest of her 9 years. While she was hard, I always used to think we’d have never gotten her if she hadn’t been sick and calm, and despite being nuts she was a total pleasure and part of our family, It all worked out as it should – in the end :)

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  • Aimee

    Posted on July 25, 2012

    Hoo boy. This is something I struggle with constantly. What sometimes works for me is to remember that everything that’s happening, good or bad, is probably, on the whole, bigger than I can even imagine it to be. So maybe I can’t understand NOW why something’s happening, but maybe it plays a part in what will happen later. I’m not going to lie, it doesn’t always work. Right now I feel like I’m surrounded by bad news and people I love struggling. It’s hard to have any perspective when that happens. I try.

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  • Leandra

    Posted on July 25, 2012

    This is something that I struggle with — this question I mean. I tend to be fairly Chicken Little-ish, too. We were also talking about this same subject in Sunday School last week and we all sort of decided that Hope also plays a part in getting to that zen-like state. When one is in the midst of crisis, things seem less bleak if there is still hope for better. For Christians, I think faith also plays a part — faith that even though we don’t understand it, God does and even though we see through a glass darkly, ultimately all will be revealed to us.

    For me, it’s a constant battle, a constant striving to strengthen my faith and my hope.

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  • suburbancorrespondent

    Posted on July 25, 2012

    Essentially, age and experience bring perspective which make hard things a little less difficult to deal with. I know that my husband and I have had to deal with some circumstances in the past few years that would have torn us apart had they occurred earlier in our marriage, when we (especially I) were more immature and not as used to working together. I suppose this is what is referred to as the “wisdom” of old age.

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  • Heather C

    Posted on July 25, 2012

    Although I love Jesus, I don’t often use quotes from the bible to get me through tough times. Mostly because my memorization skills are crap, not because I don’t think Jesus is awesome.

    But I use this one:

    It will all work out in the end, if it’s not working out… then it’s not the end.

    It reminds me that all this “stuff”, the good and the bad, is just life and we can control some things and we have no control over other things. But I believe everyone is trying to put one foot in front of the other, just like me.

    I also met my husband loooong before I married him and we also agree that it probably wouldn’t have worked out if we’d continued a relationship back then :)

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  • Megan

    Posted on July 25, 2012

    This could get long – fair warning.

    First, I think it’s important to point out that often ‘it’ – whatever it is – is never going to be okay. There are things that AREN’T okay. The Aurora shooting is not okay. Children dying of cancer is not okay. All of those myriad horrors we know happen every day are not okay.

    But the PEOPLE, they can be okay. Because ‘it’ is almost always finite, at least in its most extreme, happening right now incarnation. The aftermath, the dealing and the cleaning up and the grieving and the anger and the growing and accepting and changing: ALL of it goes on long after ‘it,’ and while we generally cannot control ‘it,’ we have far more say in what happens next in our own hearts and minds.

    Second – as someone who has gone through an extremely painful tragedy – I deeply dislike the phrase ‘everything happens for a reason.’ It is trotted out all the time, and I understand that it gives comfort to a lot of people and that they say it to me out of love. But I hate it. To start with, it’s obvious – yes, everything happens for a reason because without a cause it wouldn’t happen. In Aurora the reason the tragedy happened was a young man armed himself and shot people (and the reason he did that was more complex I’m sure, but there was a reason). But beyond that, the sting that hides in that statement, the one that is trying to tell you that God or gods are in charge so it’s all okay, is that the implication is the ‘reason’ is to test you, or to help you grow, or (in some belief systems) as a punishment – is that ‘it’, while totally out of your control, is also somehow your fault. And, what’s more, that if you feel as though you’re NOT learning or growing or passing the test with enough faith or elan, ‘it’ was all a waste and that is your fault too.

    But to the main point. I suppose I’m more on the ‘zen’ end because I do know that while ‘it’ is nearly unbearable in the moment, the moment will pass and things will change and get better. AND, because of ‘it,’ we can have eyes to see and appreciate the good that comes later.

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  • Arnebya

    Posted on July 25, 2012

    My husband has a habit of saying “it’ll all work out” whereas I’m usually thinking hitting him upside the head with the cast iron skillet might just make things “work out” faster. His optimism irks the hell out of me. I have found that this is most likely due to my sense that things will not work out, the house will catch fire the minute we go on vacation, a policeman is going to call anytime now to say there’s been an accident, or hey honey, I’m two weeks late. I think his optimism also comes across as him being too nonchalant (to me). Because sometimes bad things do happen. Sometimes I have to wonder at the really bad things, is this what was supposed to happen? Why? Why is this allowed to happen? I am not the silver lining girl and it’s hard for me to accept when my husband is offering that lining. I work REALLY hard at not always being the impending zombie apocalypse girl. Really hard. At least I’ve learned not to share it as much.

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    • Nancy

      Posted on July 30, 2012

      So understand. My partner and I have been living together 5 years – known eachother for 17. His optimism is what I love about him, and what drives me the most crazy. I’m working hard at understanding it, and believing that he actually thinks things will always be OK, not that he just has a Pollyanna attitude, or he is trying to make me feel better. That makes me love him all the more.

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  • Patti

    Posted on July 25, 2012

    I usually zen – right over here in the corner while I lick my wounds and imagine all sorts of what-ifs and OMGs. I read The Tao of Pooh and loved it, but I doubt I’m capable of relaxing and living in the moment for more than a moment.

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  • Asha Dornfest {Parent Hacks}

    Posted on July 25, 2012

    “The more I survive the more I find myself saying this.” I’m paraphrasing you, but that’s EXACTLY what I believe and have experienced myself. It sounds obnoxious to talk about “the gift of adversity” and “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,” but it’s true. Also…you’re suddenly, painfully aware that things could be worse, so the good times (even the neutral times) take on a glowing quality. I’ve always been an optimist, but it was only truly tested when things went south for a few years and I thought my optimism was really naiveté. Turns out, nope, optimism is actually the most reasonable and logical way to approach life, for me, anyway.

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  • meghann @ midgetinvasion

    Posted on July 25, 2012

    Job is my homeboy. I think that about sums up what could be a very long response from me. ;)

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  • HeatherHPD

    Posted on July 25, 2012

    When Megan said “AND, because of ‘it,’ we can have eyes to see and appreciate the good that comes later” she articulated how i try to see things much better than i do with ” with out experiencing Sorrow we don’t know how good Happy can be.”

    Appreciating this outcome of “it” is of course is soooo much easier said than done.

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  • D52R

    Posted on July 25, 2012

    I’ve pretty much gone through all the positive, upbeat quotes that filled my life until middle age. However, the one that has stood the test of time is that it takes both rain and sunshine to make a rainbow. I try to focus on life’s requirement that both ends of the spectrum are necessary. It doesn’t always help but it makes a difference at times.

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  • Celeste

    Posted on July 25, 2012

    I’m getting old. I know that because I honestly pity the younguns around me who have not been slapped around by life yet. We all get some of it. I hope it’s made me a more compassionate person.

    “Everything happens for a reason”? Yeah, maybe but it’s cold, cold comfort when you lose a loved one. I don’t say it. I can remember having it said to me and going to the privacy of my home and breaking things and crying till I threw up.

    On the zen thing, I did stumble across something very interesting this past week, as usual, when I was looking for something else. An author mentioned another book that what written in 1925, which I found on Amazon as a Kindle download for 99 cents: “The Game of Life and How to Play It,” by Florence Scovel Shinn. It talks about expecting the best and believing things will get better and how things work their way out if we just stand back and let them. I’m putting the link below. It’s a very small investment of time (equivalent to about 60 printed pages) and money but somehow I got some hope out of it. Then I bought the two sequels for 99c each.

    As far as Aurora goes, I have nothing. “Pity” doesn’t sound like a very strong word, but for everyone involved, that’s what I feel. What a waste of so many lives.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted on July 25, 2012

    I can and do get caught up in my own stuff, but I try not to worry too much about random acts of devastation. I mean, if it happens, I’ll deal or I’ll be dead. Morbid and yet pragmatic. I think I need to sleep more…

    Either way, churning it over and over does not serve me well right now. Although, I do usually have a worst case scenario plan so that I don’t have to worry.

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  • Pharmgirl

    Posted on July 25, 2012

    <–Buddha
    It drives everyone crazy, I know. But somewhere along the line I came to believe that things are unfolding exactly as they should, and I am a much happier camper for it. It doesn't mean that I don't feel frustration or grief. However, it helps me to accept the situation and look for ways to make it better.

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  • Rocky Mountain Woman

    Posted on July 25, 2012

    Jeez, I have no idea. Life is so difficult sometimes I just feel lucky to survive it….

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  • Lindsey

    Posted on July 25, 2012

    These days I try to focus on the parts of a situation where there’s something I can actually do or that I have influence over, and I let the rest go. If I know I’ve done everything I can in a given situation and behaved with integrity, at that point that the outcome is up to the universe. (Of course, I need frequent reminders that I’m not in charge. :)

    But that little phrase: “the outcome is not up to me,” is wonderfully freeing, because it means I’m truly only responsible for me.

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  • Reb

    Posted on July 26, 2012

    People talk about “conquering” mountains, like the mountain is the enemy and out to get you. When I got into hair-raising situations mountain climbing, I found it much more helpful to remember that the mountain just is. It’s neither on your side nor actively trying to kill you, so you can get on with doing your best to stay alive.

    I like that idea for the universe too. Things happen, but I don’t have to fight a universe that’s got it in for me personally.

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  • Pat

    Posted on July 26, 2012

    I’m a “be prepared & it won’t be bad” optimistic Buddha type & I married a Chicken Little pessimist. Pray for me. LOL! Praying for you & your family.

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  • Zoe

    Posted on July 26, 2012

    I have to say I’m getting better at this as I get older, but I have a long way to go. One rainy, rainy winter I had a leaky roof. The rain made my yard a boggin’ pit, so the roofers couldn’t get their truck anywhere near the house. I had to just deal with the leak for the season. Good thing, because they managed to lift the vent pipe to my gas furnace and left it venting into the house. Had they been able to do the repair in the winter, I would have died of CO poisoning the first night. I have to think about that when I get all woe-is-me. Current misery is not necessarily an indicator of future prospects. Hard to remember when chunks of sky are whooshing past, tho.

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  • Jan in Norman, OK

    Posted on July 26, 2012

    Chicken Little really did get hit on the head. Her mistake was in assuming she knew the facts of the situation. The real moral of the story is to investigate before you comment for the record.

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  • bryan

    Posted on July 26, 2012

    I always compare it to food. Okay, fresh tomatoes are good. And the basil is fine. But who really enjoys nomming down on the raw onion and garlic? (Except for the Vidalia onions, of course, but that’s not what we’re talking about here.) No one, of course. But mix those together & some other stuff that, when eaten alone, doesn’t sound that great. . .let them simmer in a pot for a while, and you have some bodacious Italian sauce. Individual events or feelings or bad decisions. . .those are the ingredients that we mix together create a really robust life, with all of the hints and undertones of good sauce.

    And let’s face it, we don’t really learn anything until we’ve gotten it wrong at least once. Wisdom doesn’t just happen; it’s earned.

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  • Sharon K

    Posted on July 29, 2012

    hope is so fearful. i was so pleased and happy to hear you got to have Chickee free for a few hours. i am watching the Olympics and those young people fill me with such hope and joy. but then i consider. my joy is that my oldest has been 15 months since his last suicide attempt. he washed all his clothes this week on his own without prompting. i am so hopeful and happy for him. but, if i try to share that hope, that he has schizophrenia and might be managing it “at this moment” and i’m so pleased for him, people do immediately go to Aurora and ask instead, why have I not locked him away somewhere safe. I can’t share that hope I have for him that I might share my happiness that he is still alive. has he ever been violent? no, he’s the sort, like the majority (really), who just quietly shuts himself in his room and doesn’t come out. when the local dealers asked him to cash a check for them, he told them he didn’t have any money, which was true, but he gave them the two cases of soup we had bought him so They would not be hungry. this could change if his meds stop being effective, but, hope is cautious. hope knits a lot of hipster hats to donate for the other young men who are not cute enough for hope.

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