“Life sucks and then you die” was a popular saying when I was younger, and from what I can tell that saying still holds true today.
My father-in-law, may he rest in peace, used to put it this way: “The chances are only one in a million of something going wrong, but then again there are a million and one things.”
If you head over to any the bookstore, you’ll find rivers of titles promising you some relief from the inevitable suffering that is life. Religion, of course is essentially focused on this.
And Buddhism asks the question: Given that earthly existence is basically a form of punishment for being bad in a previous life (“karma”) how do you muddle through in the way that is most helpful?
I cannot speak for others but I can tell you what has worked for me. I’m going to tell you the truth and not sugarcoat it.
Coming to terms with my conscience. You can believe in anything you want. But “living in the light” matters to me. For too many years I pretended that I could walk away from questions of faith, but trying to do that only scarred me. I wrestle with it; I am happier. I am flawed, deeply flawed but I love G-d, and I believe that G-d loves me and everyone.
Being myself with my family. There were so many years that I pretended to be something I was not, especially as a younger person: the perfect wife and mother, perfectly religious (before my personal crisis), the old “everything is fine as long as you’re a Black Model T.” When I broke free from the mold and confronted my family with my truly weird but lovable humanity, the honesty created a closer bond that was much more satisfying.
Writing it down. I don’t understand things as I experience them. They only make sense in the processing. I believe it is important to take it in, share what I can and give it to other people for use in the future. Now I’ve started to take photos and use them in the same way. Yes it is a lot – self-help, social media, branding. But as I like to say, “there is something for everyone.” 🙂
An extended personal and professional network. Everybody – everybody, everybody, everybody – goes through a lot of difficult stuff in life. The worst thing you can do is hold it in, but then again you can’t exactly call “1-800-HELP ME” every time you want to bang your head against the wall. There is great relief in sharing your experiences with others, helping them if you can and asking them in turn to help you.
For all of these things, publishing on social media has proven invaluable to me. Discovering that I was not alone, happened because of the Internet. Finding community here and across the sea, quite literally, keeps you from living that famous saying that “most men lead lives of quiet misery.”
A life filled with others is a life filled with joy. While it is true that G-d always walks with us, He is embodied in other people, and their presence tells you that you are not alone.
All opinions are my own and do not reflect those of my agency or the federal government as a whole. Photo by Lilian Gesla Photography via Flickr (Creative Commons).