I’ve been reminded of something the past few days. Something that I do tend to lose sight of every now and again, even though I shouldn’t. It’s the fact that life is all a matter of perspective. If you spend all your time worrying about things that you have no control over, that’s what your life will be. If you expend a whole lot of energy and time arguing about whether Mac is better than Windows, or this politician is better than this one, and getting angry at the people who don’t agree with you, then that’s what your life will be, a series of bitter, angry arguments.
Going on vacation usually brings that perspective back to me, but over the last few days some other events in my personal life have reminded me of that as well. Sort of reinforcing the idea that started to take root while we were gone.
There is so much to enjoy about life. Places to see, people to spend time with, laughter, love, friendship, etc., and an absolutely undefined amount of time to enjoy it in. Seems to me we’d all be better off doing that instead of trying to make everyone else agree with our standards. Besides, if I’ve discovered anything through my years on this planet, it’s that most of the people who want to tell you how to live your life, don’t have enough of their own life.
We don’t know how many opportunities we’ll get to laugh with our loved ones, to tell our friends how we really feel about them, or to share our lives with them. I’d much rather spend more time trying to make those people smile, and less arguing the merits of things that pale in importance.
Followup: NexusDog sent me an email pointing to a response on his blog. This is a snippet, but be sure to read the whole thing.
This entry made me shameful for feeling the way I do, what lasting affects my own abuse has had on me, and what it did to me, back as a child – it was like reading ‘you OUGHT/SHOULD be happy, and if you’re not, then you’ve only got yourself to blame’, that is exactly what it feels like and it’s an appalling feeling to have, and having come from a fellow child abuse survivor only makes it worse.
Now let me make something very clear to Nexus and anyone else who had this reaction to what I’ve written. I never said anything about this entry being related to surviving child abuse in any way, shape, or form. I’ve always been an advocate, and I think anyone who has read my blog for a long time has seen this, of doing whatever works for you in terms of healing. If being hyper vigilant is what you need to do to feel safe, then by all means, I encourage you to do just that.
The point of this rant, if you will, was not to say that if you’re not happy, it’s all your own fault. Nor was it an attempt to tell anyone how to live. This was one random observation about life in general, and specifically about taking the time to appreciate the good things in life. There are myriad reasons why your life may not be filled with happiness, that have nothing at all to do with whether you’re worried about something, and which I couldn’t possibly offer a solution to. Given that, I thought we could all use a little reminder to set aside the toxicity of political debates, and other differences of opinion, so that we could do something more enjoyable, like spending time with family and friends. I felt like maybe, just maybe, if you spent a little less time listening to the talking heads spouting their opinions about what you should be thinking, and what you should be doing, what you should be outraged about, or what you should be telling all your friends to do, and a little more time laughing, maybe sharing a good meal, taking in a good show, or whatever else in life gives you pleasure and enjoyment, there might be a little more happiness in your life.
Is that a generalization about how we all should be living? Yes, it absolutely is. I never claimed it to be otherwise. I believe it’s also good, sound advice. I’m hardly the only one.
Lastly, to anyone who did read it that way, but especially to Nexusdog, I am sorry. It pains me to think that he’s been unable to express his reaction to this entry for over a month now because it impacted him that deeply. It humbles me to know that the words I write here, when they are not as clear as they should be, can cause that much pain in a fellow survivor. It reminds me to be very careful in the words I choose, and to do everything I can to make sure I express myself as clearly as possible to avoid this sort of reaction in the future. It also serves to point out that, as careful as I can be, there will still be times when I write something that can be misconstrued. My hope is that you, as readers, will have the courage to let me know, and give me the opportunity to clarify my writing.