I don’t recall ever posting two days in a row, but here it is, a follow-up.
After publishing yesterday’s post, I started feeling bad for having written about dad. The words “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle” became heavy. I am here to listen, to inspire, to help…not to judge anyone. Perhaps I have been too harsh in my post, perhaps every single person out there does care, and there are limitations and struggles I simply don’t understand.
A terrible headache forced me to lie down and rest for a bit in the evening. I was very sad. I do not like how it feels to look at things with a harsh, critical eye. I’d rather be overly optimistic, err on the side of compassion and love than feel like this.
When I got up, I started writing again, as I wanted to clarify that when I sometimes get in this harsher, more critical mode, it’s not for lack of compassion, love or understanding of everyone’s struggles and challenges. All I am trying to do is make a point: that we all must look at our resources, gifts and opportunities, whatever they may be, and make the most of them. Because to so many people, the problems we consider serious and paralyzing in our own lives look like blessings they could only wish for.
Imagine the financial worries we all go through, the frustrations of balancing a budget, trying to get a better paying job, or stretching those dollars to cover some unexpected monthly expenses. And now imagine someone who is homeless, whose possessions were either destroyed or taken, whose family is lost, or sick, or starving. To such a someone, my ending up with a high electric bill is a symptom of wellness, of prosperity…of the fact that I have a home, electricity to go with it, and a family who lives here and uses appliances.
As for dad, I’m sure he had his own battles to fight. But he was an extraordinary man, blessed by nature and circumstances with so many resources and gifts, who still chose to be rather selfish, self-absorbed and frankly, stingy. Sounds horrible, but it’s the truth. Dad had a great mind, and a beautiful heart. He had all the best theories, beliefs and principles…only he fell short when it came to applying them in his personal life. I know he had his share of hardships and disappointments. But what he never realized is that the problem was not what was lacking, but what he failed to contribute.
Only when dementia took full control of dad’s mind did his heart truly open again. He wanted to help me with my studies, for us to be close and work together. But illness had struck, and he was unable to do anything but feel pride and regret in his moments of lucidity. He wanted to be closer to his grandkids, he wanted his family. And he wouldn’t eat or sleep or do anything if the kitty mom rescued wasn’t near him, on his lap, or in his bed. This from a man who, when in full control of his mind, thought animals were an unnecessary nuisance. How ironic that his soul took over when his mind could no longer block it.
So yes, it fills me with great sadness that this special man lived his life like a hermit, holding on to his money, and focusing mostly on his own needs and his work, while surrounded by so much love and beauty that he never got to understand or enjoy. And I pray that his mind was totally lost when he died, so that he couldn’t see the truth his soul had revealed to the rest of us.
Obviously this kind of life lesson is always there as a warning, and it guides me in my personal and professional life. I am saddened to no end when I come across a person or situation where there is truly nothing to be done. But I am heartbroken and frustrated to the point of anger when I come across potential, opportunity and people who are blessed in so many ways, yet who refuse to use their resources and gifts. I see them thriving, I see them happy and fulfilled, I see them enjoying abundance, relationships, reaching goals and truly living. But they choose to focus on stress, to look for what’s missing, to lock themselves up in a cocoon out of habit and pride, out of fear to face discomfort and yes, often also out of fear to risk a financial or professional compromise.
So again, when I get into a bit of a rant, and write from a harsher, more critical perspective, it is my way of trying to provoke a bit of soul-searching, inspire a reality check. What we have must be seen, and used. And what we want to receive or achieve depends mostly on what we contribute.
If we look into the future and question whether some wonderful opportunity we recognize today will remain just as wonderful and be sustainable, the answer is always going to be a big, fat NO. Because the equation for happiness and success in anything must include our contribution to its beauty, its maintenance and growth.
The greatest perfection, if there could be such a thing, would become but a boring, stale and lifeless trinket without our breathing life into it, creatively and consistently nurturing it, and thereby always challenging ourselves to come up with new resources, and new approaches. This, to me, is what it means to truly live and grow.
PS. And to dad, wherever you are, I love you to bits. Forgive me for writing about you in a critical way sometimes, but you know this is what psychology people do…they embarrass their parents, their partners and their kids, using them to illustrate various points. And don’t forget you wanted your daughter to get that degree!