“I have not lost faith in God. I have moments of anger and protest. Sometimes I’ve been closer to him for that reason.” Elie Wiesel
“Without change there is no innovation, creativity, or incentive for improvement. Those who initiate change will have a better opportunity to manage the change that is inevitable.” – William Pollard
I was thinking (yes again) about the difficulty of accepting not only the consequences of our actions but of the circumstances and situations surrounding them. During our early upbringing we were somewhat led to believe in the concept of a perfect and utopian society and existence. I think it was meant to fuel our early belief that anything was possible and that we can overcome any obstacle. Don’t get me wrong, I think this is a laudable approach and I do believe that everything is achievable until proven otherwise but the bigger questions are when we really reach that point and who defines it?
As we experience and encounter more, we are faced with the challenge of alterations to our previous plans. What to do? Nothing if that’s what you accept as the final product of your efforts. Maybe that’s good enough for some who find a morbid satisfaction with the inequality of fate. Better to deflect blame through inaction than have to strain to uncover how much additional control we can exercise when faced with what may just be temporary setback.
We’re all going to get answers to what we ask and strive for and how we interpret them is fundamental to their achievement or sadly, our disregard. When we receive a “no” initially and accept it as the final response, maybe we didn’t understand that the answer was only “not yet”! “Failure” is often accepted when we fail to interpret it as we’re “a bit closer” or “almost there”! “Going as far as we can go” is often confused with “going as far as we’ll try”! I guess what we learn (or may never know) about ourselves is what we can still sense through complete darkness and silence.
There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to realizing when you’ve reached the end of a road. So rare is it that the route that we meticulously planned out ends up traveled along through its precise coordinates. But why do so many end a journey when a road is blocked requiring only a change in directions? Our compass may remain pointed in the same direction but it’s foolish to think that there will never be detours and delays. It doesn’t mean we don’t press on, or continually attempt to push immovable obstacles – that’s a waist of energy and painful. We just need to exercise some ingenuity and creativity to figure out how to move around them to get towards the future we’ve designed.
I remember something I was told about “judgment day” when a man was in front of Saint Peter and judged to be unworthy of entering Heaven. As the door was closed and the man dejectedly began to walk away, he heard a woman’s voice and as he looked down away from the door, the Virgin Mary had opened a nearby window allowing him to enter into God’s kingdom!
I’ve always remembered that story to remind me that when we feel we’ve lost hope, it does not mean all hope is lost! If needing shelter while on the way to our destination and a door is closed, it doesn’t mean it’s locked. If locked, at least knock because someone may be home to let you in. If still no answer, then go to another door or window and knock because if someone is home, there’s a chance they’ll help. If they don’t or still no answer, there’s rumor of a poor couple who found shelter in a manger and gave birth to a child that changed the world!
So be among the gifted to recognize that change is just part of our existence and every wrong calculation just requires reexamination of the equation. We all make poor or unfortunate choices but I only regret the following mistakes: 1) those that hurt others; 2) those that I didn’t learn from; and 3) those that caused me to quit because I didn’t readjust my thinking to pursue what still could have been achieved had I just tried differently.
So maybe nothing is really lost until we stop searching until the last sunrise has passed out of our final vision. Maybe the answers will be different than hoped for but then again, what did we surprisingly discover and lovingly cherish about ourselves and our lives? What I find new about me each day makes me hopeful that I may have another to get closer to what I wish for, regardless of how it ultimately turns out.
“From what we get, we can make a living; what we give, however, makes a life.” – Arthur Ashe
I’m not a big fan of cliches. They are used too frequently without thought and just products of repetitive statements we use during complex situations that certainly require something of more value and sentiment to the recipient.
I was thinking of one in particular. “I’m here for you” or “I’m there for you”. I get the basic gist of it – a simple offering of support and maybe a little more but what should it mean? I guess I could devote a great deal of analysis to these statements but my evaluation is centered around what I’ve meant when saying it in the past compared to now, and what it’s meant when offered in my direction.
Thinking of when I used to say it, I pretty much meant it literally. I’d be “here” for someone but they’d have to generally come to where I was if they needed something important. I was “there” for someone but not really. I was usually at a safe distance so that I would be unable or unwilling to get “there”. Not always and maybe not intentionally but in thinking back, too frequently.
In addition, I find little comfort when someone says “I’m there for you” when going through tough times. I really don’t need a congregation of people at where I’m at since I already know how I got “there” and don’t like where “there” is at. I may not expect the answers but it won’t help me to have company “there”. What is needed is a temporary escape from “there” and maybe another mind and set of eyes to show me a possible way to get out of “there” because a cascade of thoughts and emotions sometimes complicates the recognition of the simplest and most logical solutions.
I know, this sounds like a bad comedy bit but here’s the point. Now when I say “I’m here for you”, it means that when called upon, I will be “there with you.” I understand that trying to provide a quick solution to a complex dilemma generally leads down a more complex path or at times, proving to be more destructive. I do know that taking someone from where they may be (figuratively and/or literally), slowing things down, maybe mixing a genuine hug and reason to smile, and letting them be heard so that they can hear themselves on the outside of their mind provides a good starting point to get out of “there”. This then challenges the best parts of myself by seeing what that person (not me) is capable of doing and offering small guidance about what might be done to slowly take their initial steps somewhere else. Importantly they will know that if needed, I will support and help them up (not carry) when they stumble and fall. More importantly I will reinforce them on the best direction because it’s their obligation to “make it happen” for themselves.
This is a lot of words but a simple point I hope you recognize. By who you are, you have the best potential to be difference makers. By virtue of how you were raised and the nature of your character, personality, compassion, morality, and fundamental beliefs, you can provide so much of the best part of who you are to others. I’m not just talking about the obvious targets like girlfriends or family but also friends and acquaintances who are reluctant to demonstrate the hidden cracks on their hearts and souls.
How often do we ask “what’s wrong” and get a response like “I’m fine” or “okay” (save that discussion for another day) and settle for it when we know things are absolutely the opposite. I won’t ask “what you are waiting for” but more “why are you waiting”? You are no longer the “innocents” of my generation but increasingly responsible and accountable for your generation. If you want a perfect world, time to start perfecting the world around you and see if it can be expanded a bit at a time through your own acts of kindness based on your own goodness.
I’ll end with the words of a U2 song. “A broken (or injured) heart is an open heart” so if you recognize it, maybe that’s the time you could really be “there” to help it heal – this is separate and apart from romantic relationships but on a more profound scale. Simple gestures might just lead to small miracles. Either way, I’ve been “here for you”, will be “there with you”, and help you get away from “there”, and always will! It’s not hard to find me, you know?
So think about what you say to someone and the actual real meaning behind it and then, give more meaning afterwards to what you just said because one day you may be the one person they need to rely on! It may be a heavier burden than anticipated but sometimes, affirmations that evidence your character may also call upon untempered accountability so that the perfect world you’re looking for might reveal itself beyond your horizons.
Each new day that arrives does not add age to my life. It seamlessly offers opportunities with moments meant to be captured for me: to take measure of myself, live more peacefully with myself, share more about the best of myself, and at the end of those 1,440 minutes, learn and expand upon what I knew about myself. With that being so, I will never grow older but just grow! – Joe Dico Continue reading
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou
I’ve also learned from experience that it’s not about who strikes first or last; it’s about understanding the distress and anguish that could have been prevented had I never stuck at all and if so required, how it could have been better delivered if tempered by an appreciation of my own intrinsic and fundamental humanity. – Joe Dico