Oh, no! We've got to go through it??
We say we can do hard things. But do we believe it so much that we’re willing to suffer to get to the other side?
I get that life isn’t fair. I’ve always told my children, “Life isn’t fair and it’s my job to help you deal with that.”
But hard? Life is hard? Wait, that’s the excuse I get to use, isn’t it? Nope, it’s simply reality. A non-judgmental fact.
It’s also a sucker punch. A wake up call. Those words. The meaning of those words. Life. Is. Hard. But the main lesson is that it’s supposed to be. Fully living, and loving, means feeling the hard.
I’m not saying we needed a pandemic. But fully living means we have to live through the pandemic.
Remember the children’s book, “Going on a Bear Hunt”? The wispy illustrations of Helen Oxenbury and words of truth by Michael Rosen.
We can’t go under it.
We can’t go over it.
We’ve got to go through it.
That’s right. We’ve got to go through it. Through the pandemic to get to the other side.
Yet I complain about how hard it is. Then I whip around and scold myself. “Hard!? Hard would be sending your children to war. Hard would be rationing food and fuel. Hard would be losing my job. Hard is not staying at home. Hard is not a few extra weeks between a hair cut or manicure. Hard is not waiting in line to enter Trader Joe’s after they’ve sanitized the cart for you.”
I’ve fallen prey to the lie that life is linear and all about progress. And, more importantly, I’ve been guilty of comparative suffering. You’re ailment is worse than mine so I am wrong to feel bad, to feel the pain. Comparative suffering only discounts both my pain and yours. And it’s decidedly NOT empathy.
Each of us is wrestling with what it means to live through a pandemic. Healthcare workers are experiencing it differently than students. Fundraisers are experiencing it differently than grocery stockers. Police officers are experiencing it differently than farm workers.
Different is just, well, different. One kind of different or hard doesn't win out over another kind of different or hard.
I think that’s what bugging me most right now. The polarization, the judgments, the dismissal of the “other”. Life is hard. Let’s not make it harder than it already is.
Covid-19, oil at negative prices, increasing unemployment - don’t we have enough to deal with - isn’t life hard enough - without adding to the mix judging whose suffering is worse? Either crowning ourselves with the suffering tiara or denying our very real pain.
My life is good. I have much to be grateful for. But I miss people. I’m so disappointed we could not travel to Washington DC to celebrate my son’s graduation and MBA. I’m sad I can’t visit my mom in assisted living. I ache for my clients who had to cancel events and suffer lost revenue.
For most of us now, life is harder than usual. We’ve got to go through it.
I believe the joy that comes from getting through really hard times is deeper, wider and, ultimately, expands our heart. The miracle of joy is that it is more powerful than the hard. It’ll worm its way into the hard.
At first, it seems fleeting. A word, a flower blooming, a bird song, a smile. As you’re walking through the hard, through this pandemic and all the fallout, look carefully. That spark, that twinkle, that warm glow you glanced? That’s joy. Pause, observe, smile and let it lead you to the next spark of joy.
Your steps will be lighter, you heart will be more whole, you will grow and the hard will lose a few pounds.
Being better and doing better only happens when we go through it. When we embrace the hard. When we quit comparing and start saying, “You, too?” And moving forward with open arms and open hearts.
Choose joy and know this - We can do hard things.