Tuesday, March 2, 2010
“In three words I can sum up everything I've learned about life: It goes on.” ~ Robert Frost
When I was a young girl, I found it mind-boggling how older people never seemed to really worry about anything. As for any teenager worth her salt, a small stumble was enough to devastate my world.
One day, one of my mother’s friends came over to see us. She looked terrible – her face was etched with deep lines of worry, and her eyes lacked the spark I was accustomed to see in them. She strangely looked like an old lady, and only bore a slight resemblance to the vibrant woman I knew. I said hello and gave her a hug before she and my mother went to the kitchen and closed the door; she held me tight, as if she never wanted to let go, yet her embrace felt weak. I said nothing. As curious as I was to know what had happened, I found comfort in my ignorance, afraid that whatever had affected her so deeply could possibly crack the foundations of my own world.
After her friend left, my mother explained that her husband had passed away in a traffic accident, and she was left alone taking care of her two young sons; if that wasn’t enough, one of the children was dealing with a serious health issue and required extra care which prevented her from working full time. To my teenage mindset, such hardship was something that could only fit a movie script – how could anyone survive so much?
A few months passed, and I met my mother’s friend again. This time she looked much stronger, and although one could still detect sadness in her eyes, she promptly smiled when she saw me. The moment her first few words escaped her lips I was in awe – her voice had a newfound strength, and a sense of deep personal resolve. When I told her how sorry I was for her loss, and asked how she was coping with her son’s medical issues, she smiled genuinely and replied: “He is fine. Things have been hard, but if one can hang on to the rope while the wind is blowing, their feet will find stable ground to stand on again. Everything passes.”
I thought of her words on the way home – what exactly did she mean?
It took many years for the depth of her message to sink in. Over time, I’ve run into situations in which I had to “hang on to the rope,” when things and energies got so crazy and scattered that I wasn’t sure what the outcome would be. Yet, I survived; each and every time. So did other people I know who lived through trying events.
In the greater scheme of things, much of the hardship we go through on a daily basis is no more than a speck of dust in a ray of sunshine, but as we go through it, it feels like a boulder chasing us. It’s not until things have passed and we are able to assess them from a distance that we realize the sun never stopped rising and setting, and life continued on, unscathed and self-preserving. If I look back now at some of my less-than-happy moments in the past, I can see that no matter how devastating or filled with anxiety they were, they did finally settle, and things found a way to smooth themselves.
Today, I no longer worry much. After all, if something is meant to go wrong, I will have plenty of time to worry over a disastrous outcome IF and when it happens; no sense in wasting energy over it ahead of time.
Things happen, and sometimes their play is entirely out of our control; some are apparently beneficial, while others seem placed on our path to hinder our growth, but all of them will eventually pass. And sometimes we realize that we worried too much after all.