I hear so many people wanting to be done with 2016. It seems to have intensified lately with the loss of celebrities. There is much being said about how hard the year was, and how much we lost and generally disliked the things that happened throughout the year. On the one hand, I relate to the sentiment and look back on a year that included some significant challenges for me personally. Some significant losses. They are indeed things that if I were able to choose, I would probably take a pass on. I would literally do anything I could to go back on some things some days because they have brought about significant challenges and pain of various sorts in everyday life. Who in their right mind would sign up for anything like that? Maybe it should be me. Maybe I should welcome it all.
You know, it’s easy to see the parallels with this and the posts I often see that give the boot to the week, or even the day.
Maybe we are doing the moment, the day, the week, the year all wrong if we can’t handle it anymore? I think back to an interview I heard with Marc Garneau (the first famous Canadian astronaut) make about his upbringing and how it prepared him for going into space. I can’t seem to find the transcript to the conversation I heard of him in the particular interview this was a part of, but his answer went something like this. (“When I was growing up on the farm, my father used to send me out to work the fields with the tractor, and all I had to use when and if anything broke was a crescent wrench and a screwdriver. Whatever situation came along in my day, I had to make do with what I had to fix whatever broke in order to finish the job. I had no choice but to finish the job.”) He went on to say that there was absolutely no choice but to finish the job when he was in space. You don’t get to just quit! Unless you give yourself that option. Then you can quit on absolutely everything at any moment of time and at any stage of the process. I know I can’t allow myself to see it that way. And I also know that I had better find a way to make peace with the fact that I don’t always get to choose.
Throwing out a moment, a day, a week, a year, an opportunity, a baby with the bathwater… there was something valuable in the stuff we want to get rid of it and we let it all go because it was too mixed together, it seemed to be so rotten, or dirty, or difficult, or overwhelming. I am so thankful that my brain injury happened. You heard me right. I AM THANKFUL for my stroke! It gave me the chance I needed. Not everything was taken from me. There are still many things that I was left with. And maybe, just maybe, there was a really important baby in the bathwater that was being poured out. Or thrown out. The truth is I lost too much of what I didn’t ever want to lose. Choice was not a part of the process. On the other hand, the loss of things has caused the pause. The pause that lets me look at what I have to work with and what I can do about that which I face. Again, I cannot look at what I don’t have and simply forget about all the things I have. Whatever is left is how I do the moments in front of me. And Lord willing they will turn into days, and weeks, or years, or the rest of my life.
Let me borrow some language from one of those “click bait” headlines that seem to be everywhere. What if I were to tell you that everything you ever thought about the year being so bad has nothing to do with what happens in the year, but how you end up dealing with it? In fact, you will never know that you can deal with it in an amazingly powerful way until you go at it with whatever you have at your disposal and don’t give yourself the choice to pack it in. There is no other option. Take the gift of having a life to live no matter how it comes at you and no matter what else may seem to be happening all around you! Life can’t suck until you say it does. Life can’t suck until you let it. And there is no such thing as impossible any longer. Take what you get and let the point of that be that you are still getting. You still have what is right in front of you. And that ought to be amazing enough to forget about wanting to be done with it. If it isn’t, there’s more to talk about. And more to learn. Save the baby.