"The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that
never crossed your worried mind
the kind that blindside you at 4 pm on some idle Tuesday" 1
Baz Luhrmann's lyrics to "Everybody's free (to wear sunscreen)" was the anthem of Gen-Xers that were finally becoming adults in the late nineties. I remember listening to the song on repeat on my cd player while I planned out adulthood. I had no idea what real troubles were, but the song advised me on adulthood.
Bad things happen to everyone. Some of us are vocal and like to share on social media and in their friend circles. Others are quieter, preferring to share the hard moments with a few close friends and family, if at all. There is no right or wrong way to handle bad times. The only real condition is that we DO share it with others. Keeping dark things in only dims our light and hurts our growth.
It can be hard when things get bad to reach out. When the darkness closes in, many of us want to close in with it. The blackness can be soothing. We can close our eyes and try to forget, and we may- for a brief minute or hour. Sooner or later though, the emotions we are burying come up.
We cannot hide from the darkness. We must face it straight on. "I do not fear the dark, for only then can I see the light of the stars" is a famous quote that brings into essence what looking into the murkiness can bring. We will notice things that before, we did not. Before I lost my daughter, I didn't understand the value of celebrating each small victory of pregnancy. With my rainbow baby pregnancy, I saw magic in every new day he grew inside of me.
We understand that we are not infallible, once those hard times come (and they do come.) Progress in life is a constant winding path between hard, painful, lessons, and the joy that comes from the growth from what we learned. Each time we fall, it allows us the opportunity for a new way to heal.
It is hard to involve our friends and family when tragedy strikes. We may not want to ask for help, or maybe we don't want to bring others down. When we do not share our struggles, we deny others the choice of helping or backing away. If they are willing to help and listen, we allow our loved ones to practice empathy and kindness. That in itself helps them learn and grow.
To say that tragedy offers opportunity may sound contrite, but sometimes merely changing our point of view a couple of degrees can allow us to reframe the situation. The other day, my cardiologist found a heart murmur that other doctors had missed, and he decided to order a bunch of tests to make sure it was benign. It was scary to think about the possibilities of what "could be" but then, I thought about what "was.": I had insurance to do the testing, the murmur was caught, and I had friends that I knew would throw me one hell of a get-well party if stuff hit the fan. The thought of a get-well party made me smile, and my fear faded away. The simple act of changing how I was looking at my health saved me many hours on Dr. Google, and I know that regardless of the outcome-I'm going to be okay.
Being okay is one thing the Baz Luhrmann song doesn't touch on. He tells us to floss and "be kind to our knees (because we'll miss them when they are gone)" yet he doesn't mention that through the "troubles that blindside us on some idle Tuesday" we will reach realizations and heights that we wouldn't have had the opportunity to achieve had it not been for the crisis. Beauty comes from pain, and the most empathetic and selfless people are the ones that have only learned how to be empathetic and altruistic through life throwing them curveballs.
Do you ever notice how the most exciting people have had the worst things happen to them? They relegate you with stories of being fired by a text, or when they had to take a job as a mascot to make ends meet. Something is fascinating about those that survive walking over the coals again and again. I want to know their skeletons and their secrets to positivity. Each tragedy is a unique experience that is as individualized as a snowflake. No two will ever be the same.
The next time you find yourself blindsided by a catastrophe, remember that there is beauty in joining hands with others to help guide your way through, and if you want- perhaps a good party. We must be open in the dark cloak of sadness to seeing the tiny lights of hope that will lead the way to a brighter future.
1Baz Luhrmann-Everybody's free (to wear sunscreen)