So I have a very dear friend – my best friend in fact – who has had an horrific streak of bad breaks and tough luck over the last 18 months or so. Someone who had lived – and I’m sure the person would not disagree with me – a fairly charmed life until now. A person who had achieved a level of success in a difficult profession, and then again a second level of success in a new and equally challenging profession. A person filled with integrity and charm and honesty and character and morals. A person you might look at and think “I wish I had their life”.
But, through circumstances completely out of their control, my friend’s life went off the tracks and their path back to some semblance of normalcy has been twisted and tortuous. Today’s incident – their car illegally towed and the need to pay nearly $1,000 to recover it and then told to fight in court to get their money back – is just the latest in a string of things that leave you shaking your head and looking at the sky and saying “Why me?”
I remember – in my early, early days of working at the company that employed me for my entire adult life – we were swamped with work. These were the days in the early 80s, when having 2 typewriters in our entire department was considered a big deal and when we wrote all of our drafts and proposals by hand and then sent to them to Word Processing for typing and then somewhere else to be proofed. We had a wonderful boss but an old-fashioned boss who believed that one could never have too much work. And one day he just kept doling out the work more and more until finally one of the more senior staff in the department – who was maybe all of 30ish at the time – lay down on the floor with a huge stack of papers and books on his chest and shouted for all to hear “Pile it on, Bob”. (And I hope he reads this and recognizes himself since we recently became FB friends).
And that’s the phrase I think of for my lovely friend who I think feels the world is just piling on every day with no end in sight. At what point do you give up – or think you should give up – and at what point do you think about redoubling your efforts and just mucking your way through this until you come out the other side, not knowing what is on the other side except that it sure won’t look like what your life was before this all happened.
A few years ago I was in a very similar, unfortunate situation which – without going into the boring details – would make a fine Lifetime woman-in-despair movie. And it went on for almost 3 years and I’d wake up almost every day and the first thing I’d think about is how I wished it was the end of the day because then I’d be back in bed and going to sleep, because sleep was my only refuge. You don’t have to worry, you don’t have to stress, you don’t have to replay every bad decision, and mostly you don’t have to think when you’re asleep. So I know sort of what it’s like to be in a mess similar to my friend’s.
And somehow I got through it. One day, I woke up and the worst of it was behind me. The crushing burden of what had happened had somehow magically been lifted off my shoulders and I was able to look forward again and believe that my future was limitless, that my options were endless, that love and light and happy times were coming my way again. And I suspect that knowing I’d come through this and can empathize with their situation may give my friend some small glimmer of hope that their world too will be right again, hopefully sooner rather than later.
How much of our lives is luck and how much is destiny? Why does it seem that some people lead – at least from outside appearances – an easier or happier or calmer life than others? When your own times are tough, do you sometimes feel like Pigpen of Peanuts with a black cloud of dust following you around? I guess what I’m trying to say is that we probably all admire and sometimes even wish we had someone else’s life but no one of us knows what inner demons or tough problems or heartbreaking struggles someone else is hiding from the world while they put on a happy face. So we may not think we’re lucky but I kind of think most of us are for we live in a country that gives us more blessings than most of the world can ever dream of.
And when all else fails and you’re still feeling sad or unlucky or just having a bad day, just say: “I need more cowbell” and – trust me – you’ll instantly feel better. Works every time.