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The other day I was in the elevator at a major Boston hospital heading to the 16th floor.  The elevator was full of people; visitors carryi...

Sunday, August 7, 2011

When the life you live isn't the life you want.


Sometimes life really stinks. It is unfair, unjust, cruel and demanding. There are few smiles, warm feelings, nice people. There is too much suffering, too much illness, too much death.  The rich get richer, the poor get poorer and the people in-between aren't moving anywhere fast.  Sometimes you just want to run away.

The problem is, you can't.

You have a job, a house, some kids, a spouse, a dog. They all depend on you. And you depend on them.  They have jobs, friends and schools they go to. Family may live nearby. It all seems like it should seem nice, but you feel stuck. This isn't what you want even though everyone tells you how lucky you are.

You see friends and family members get divorced, lose close friends, lose jobs, become ill and even die.  You see their children in trouble. You hear their woes each time you talk with them and you are sympathetic, but there is nothing you can do to make it better. You suppose you should go home and count your blessings and appreciate things more.

But you don't.  Because you can't.

I think we all get to this place at one time or another in our lives. Or perhaps we have been this way for so long we don't remember feeling any other way.  We are just not happy. We are disappointed. We are mad. And we wonder, how did we get here in the first place?

We all have had big dreams at some point in our lives. Perhaps they started in grade school or in high school or college. We saw that there was so much more out there than we ever thought possible. And perhaps some of us went on to pursue our dream and made it big. But many who had big dreams had baggage that perhaps held them back.  Naysayers. People saying, "You can never achieve that, don't even try."  So they didn't. Or maybe they just held themselves back or started on their way to a life they thought they wanted but then out grew.

And now they find themselves feeling sad and stuck.

Many people try to find solace in a myriad of ways.  Some may actually up and leave.  Others may become so very empty that they have nothing to give and go through each day like a robot with little feeling.  Still others try to find the answers in exercise, drugs, alcohol, shopping, travel or religion. But they all still find themselves back in the same place after all is said and done. And nothing seems better. Nothing at all.

I wish I had the answer.  Of course I don't. I sometimes feel stuck myself. But I will tell you what gets me through each day and puts a smile on my face and a song in my heart.

It is death.

I know, that sounds so silly. But it is true.  Death has opened my eyes to life. I have seen so much death, so much sadness, so much misery.  Nothing really scares me anymore.  So every day that I am breathing and not in physical pain is a good day to try something new.  To get unstuck. To be happy.

We are all going to die.  Each and every one of us.  And everyone we know as well.  You may say that that is depressing.  But it isn't. It is life affirming. Death sits on our shoulder and speaks to us.  But we hardly ever listen.

It says that the days are already counted. That you need to keep moving forward.  It pushes you. But of course, you resist.  Change is scary. Taking risks?  Even worse. Easier just to do nothing. Just hold tight and wait.

But wait for what?  Another miserable day? Saving up for that long thought of dream that probably never will come to fruition? Telling yourself that now is not the right time? So, when exactly is the right time. Death would tell you that the time is now.

I see so many people who thought they had time to change the direction and focus of their life. I also have seen some who were right smack in the middle of a great thing and said that they had no regrets. But those patients are few and far between.  Most did have regrets and wondered why they never really lived the life they should have, could have; but now, most certainly won't.

So, next time you are feeling bad about your life, make a plan to escape.  A real plan. Then figure out a way to make it happen. It doesn't have to involve moving or winning the lottery or a magic spell.  Sometimes it just means pushing aside your fears and getting out of your own way. And starting small with changes that matter.

You may not get everything you have ever dreamed of, but perhaps you can take some of the sharp edges off of your life and start to reshape it into what you had one day dreamed it could be. So be brave and go. Push yourself. You really have nothing to lose.

Just ask my patients.

Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.
~~~Mark Twain

The best way to make your dreams come true is to wake up.
~~~Paul Valery

Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.
~~~Maria Robinson

People spend a lifetime searching for happiness; looking for peace. They chase idle dreams, addictions, religions, even other people, hoping to fill the emptiness that plagues them. The irony is the only place they ever needed to search was within.
 ~~~Romana L. Anderson

Death whispers to me and says,"live." And so I do.
~~~J. Nelson

3 comments:

  1. Janet, your posts are always good medicine for me. And...dare I say it? Life affirming. Thank you.

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  2. Just beautiful, that's all. And thanks.

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  3. Was that last quote your own?

    Stuck. Oh how I hate that feeling. All to often I feel it myself. Thank you for the inspiring words, Janice.

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