March 03, 2010

In this for the long haul...

Man, whomever said that life is a marathon wasn't kidding. Of all people, Milton Berle was quoted as saying that "life is one long street fight". Personally, I'll bet ol' Uncle Milty was one tough old sonofabitch. A lot of those old vaudevillians were pretty tough folks.

I don't know. Life seems to be cyclical, with some events pumping you up towards success, and other events smacking you down, so that you can rediscover the coppery tang of fear and humility.

You know how it is: Life seems to be meandering along reasonably well, and you're doing a good job of not paying attention to those nagging little voices that are telling you to not take each day for granted - that stupid, correct voice that tells you that the status quo is just a contrivance of your mind - bullshit, in a word.

But, like the darling ostrich that you sometimes are, you keep a pleasant smile on your face (even though you're worried and not extremely happy at all) and you keep your head buried deep under the surface of your daily routines (down where your ears are just muffled enough from the truthful opinions around you).

You might remember being called "wise" once when you were young and still did everything that you were told. You might act brave and tell yourself that your previous experience with stress has prepared you to hear the bad news, but come on man, if it happens again, you'll probably be just as afraid this time as you ever were all those other times. Admit it. It's scary.

It's funny how stresses seem to come in groups, like cars backing up during rush hour. They come from all the different "fronts" of your life: Work, Family, and Friends.

It's from the stress of the unknown in the economy, and how that might negatively affect your livelihood at some point. You can't guarantee your financial security.

It's from the stress of hearing people whom you love utterly falling apart, reliving horrible past traumas, and knowing that no matter how hard you work with them, love them, and counsel them to reach their closure and peace of mind, you cannot make them see the solutions until they are ready to see it for themselves.

Maybe it's the aggregation of all the small worries that creates some new thing that threatens to become overpowering: You are not in control of any of it - you can only control your own actions and reactions. You're as much along for the ride as anyone else is.

People will make mistakes and hurt themselves, or hurt those whom they love. People will push themselves too far emotionally or financially and have a breakdown, parents will fight each other and overlook how it injures their children. I will try to live up to the label of "wise" and give out as much love, compassion and guidance as they can stand to hear. Some of it may even stick.

I truly believe that failure isn't falling down - it's staying down. Life may or may not be "a street fight" (sorry Milton), but I absolutely will get back up and I will stand tall, because at the end of the day, that's all I have. But, my hands will remain unclenched and open, my fingers unpointed, so that I am able to reach out to someone else, to help them stand up, so that they can stand tall next to me. Just because existence is suffering, it doesn't mean we must face it alone.

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