I came out of this summer lucky. I went on beautiful walks, visited friends and family, traveled a little bit, and even got my new Paint and Sip business off the ground. I downplayed my happiness because I fell into the trap that many humans do- bracing for punishment- feeling that success and happiness will always be short-lived- that something is always lurking around the corner. In this limbo, we hesitate to sink into contentment and we hover like cats on a wall, ready to spring into action or escape should a threat approach. Around me people suffered. Great losses and tragedies occurred and I felt powerless to stop it, even guilty for having nothing "bad" happening directly to me in the moment. Then I thought about PERSPECTIVE.
I remembered a hard day from when I was in my 20's- I was sitting in a diner alone, crying on a rainy day. (How cliché melancholy is that?) My car had just broken down under a busy bridge in Worcester and I wasn't able to make it to my job as a homecare provider because my car was being towed. I was already in the negative in my bank account and behind on my rent. I knew the car needed to be fixed, but I didn't have the money, and I was in more of a jam because I no longer had a vehicle to get to my job to make more money. All I could do was cry. I sat in a booth and told the server that I was just waiting for a ride. An older gentleman a few rows away saw me. The server came over to me quietly and whispered "That man just offered to buy you breakfast if you'd like?" I glanced at him over the rows of booths. He smiled gently and waved. I smiled back and only ordered a coffee. Slightly embarrassed, I thanked the man and told him it had just been a rough day and I appreciated his gesture.
In that moment (and in many moments during this period of my life) I felt hopeless. I didn't know that I just needed to keep going, embrace the kindness of strangers, and soon enough almost all of my dreams would come to fruition. I wouldn't be where I am today if it weren't for the help of people I knew, and even some people I didn't.
Taking perspective is not a mocking "things-could-always-be-worse" toxic-positivity tactic, it is simply a reminder that everyone is fighting a battle, whether it looks like it from the outside or not. At many points in my life I have felt I was in a muddy pit, trying desperately to dig myself out, only to be covered again and again. At those times, I used to think about people who had it worse, or imagine scenarios that would truly break me. I felt guilty for complaining, for crying alone in a diner- like I didn't deserve to say I was in pain. After all, I was responsible for the decisions I made. Taking perspective is how I try to approach things now, whether I am having a hard time, or floating on a cloud. In life there will always be instances that are unfair, tragedies that can't be avoided. There will be times when you may want to blame yourself "if only I..." but these are useless sentiments, and they won't change time or ease the grief. It's ok to have a cry over something as mundane as spilling your cup of coffee if you're having a bad day, just as it's ok to go to a party and laugh after the death of a friend. Life continues to move whether we have our feet hanging from the train car or not. The most important thing is to ENJOY THE RIDE. Take the vacation day. Book the plane ticket. Drink the wine. Have incredible and comforting sex. Eat the pasta with the real butter and the freshly grated cheese. Help a stranger. Buy your spouse or a friend flowers just because. Stay out late reminiscing with your old roommate you haven't seen in months, even if you have to work in the morning. Life is cruel. Life is short. Life is that carnival ride that made you puke that one time, but you still went on it again and again to feel the rush.