In several conversations recently other individuals (and interestingly, young adults) have expressed what I have come to see as a most helpful perspective in life–so much so that I consider it a foundational perspective–one that really helps sustain the rest of my life. It’s a perspective on events that we would otherwise label as regrettable, unfortunate, or undesirable. I think it’s natural for us to look back on those experiences and hold a negative reaction to them, to judge them as “bad”, and to justify a certain bitterness and cynicism because of them. The inevitable problem with those kinds of reactions is that the negativity rightly aimed at a bad experience begins to bleed over into the rest of our lives. At one time we might have been bitter and cynical toward this one event. Years later, we become bitter and cynical people–about everything.
The foundational perspective I have in mind goes something like this: yes, that was a regrettable experience, but I’m beginning to see what I learned from it. While I would never have chosen that to happen (while I would never wish this on anyone; while I would not want to repeat the experience . . . ) I understand things better in my life because of it. I have learned from this event.
This doesn’t mean that such experiences don’t hurt. It doesn’t mean that people behaving badly are excused. It doesn’t mean that we don’t have scars left over from the event. It does mean that we begin to see how the event altered our journey. We see the wisdom and people we have come to encounter BECAUSE of the otherwise regrettable experience. It means that at some point we let go of the blame game which usually requires a double-fisted grip on some aspect of the past. We open our hands and hearts to the new experiences that are ours BECAUSE, in part, of the unfortunate past experience. We begin to see the light shining through this event despite this event.
We can exercise choice in cultivating such a perspective about the “cloudy” events of our lives. Most of us groan at the prospect of a cloudy day. Sometimes, though, those clouds become the unexpected filter and bearer of ultimately what we just may call true beauty.
That is the story of my life!!!
* If I had not married my ex, I would have never left Massachusetts and moved to Florida.
* If I had not been declared surplus from my job in Florida, I would not have been offered a transfer to Mississippi.
* If I had not moved to Mississippi, I would not have been “at the right place at the right time” to adopt my daughter.
* If the phone company divestiture not caused the withdrawal of an offer of a rotational assignment to the AT&T general departments in 1982, I would not have been able to take a rotational assignment to Bellcore in 1985.
* If I had not moved to New Jersey for the rotational assignment in January, 1985, I would not have been living in the Northeast when my father died in July, 1985. My proximity to Massachusetts made it so much easier for me to be able to spend time with, and supportive of, my mother for the remaining two and a half years of my assignment.
* If I had not moved to Atlanta in 1987 and gotten divorced in 1981, I would not have met Mike.
* If I had not gotten cancer in 2011, Mike and I would not have decided to accelerate the pursuit of our “bucket list” and I’d probably still be waiting to visit Australia, New Zealand, and Antarctica!
Each of these events caused much angst, but if any one of the steps had been missed, I would not be who I am today. And today I am so grateful to have the family, friends, and life that I have! I am truly blessed!
I do wonder, though – when so many hardships and difficult times lead to a happy conclusion, is this part of something bigger than us? Is it synchronicity? Is it a sign of a “Master” plan? Is it all just random? What do we mean when we say “It’s just meant to be”?
These are great examples, June. Thank you for offering them for more reflection. And, equally good questions at the end. The search for truth and meaning . . .