No Matter How…

“No matter how good or bad your situation is, it will change.”

There isn’t a lot about my life that I can say with certainty, but I am sure that it’s constantly changing.  I could never have imagined that one and a half years after graduating from college, I would be sitting in my mom’s old office, running a business, and completely independent.  I became a home owner, a dog owner, and a car owner practically in the blink of an eye.  I write about this topic a lot, but the changes that I have been through in 2011 are so profound that it has taken this long to process them.

The fact that life is always changing is a given, but HOW it changes is a completely different story.  How much control do we have over the way our life changes?  This is the principle behind luck – that if you’re lucky, your life will change for the better.  It’s also the principle behind prayer, that if God is listening, he/she/it will make things go your way.  Though, I always laugh when the corollary to this message is touted, “If God brings you to it, he will get you through it.”  I think this is a perfect example of the fact that no matter what we do or what cosmic beings we implore, good things and bad things will come our way.

Even that last sentence raises an interesting question: What makes an event good or bad?  Surely, you think to yourself, some events are bad by any measuring stick, while others are always good.  What about your house burning down – that would certainly be bad, right?  Well what if it took your house burning down to make new friends, reassess your priorities, and meet the love of your life?  Of course, this is an over-the-top optimistic view of the outcome, but my point is much more subtle.  The thing that really makes a life event good or bad is your attitude.  For instance, if you win 10 million dollars in the lottery, most people would think that’s good.  Well what if by winning the money, you become infamous (in a negative way), lose all of your friends, and squander it all on foolish purchases and investments?  In that case, winning the 10 million has become a negative event in your life.

I lost my mom this year.  That was a bad thing – the worst thing that has happened to me thus far in my whole life.  My life will never be the same without her. I have missed so many opportunities to spend time with her, and if I ever have children, they won’t get to know her.  She would have been such an amazing grandmother.

I lost my mom this year.  This has caused me to grow up and learn to be responsible for myself faster than I ever thought possible.  This has given me a fresh start to figure out what I want out of life.  This has caused me to be more empathetic to loss and to reach out to friends and my remaining family.  I have grown closer to many people, and I have done a lot of good with what she taught me.

“This has been a year of losses, but I am happy with who I have become.”

That was a card on PostSecret that I read this morning.  It succinctly describes exactly what 2011 has been for me.  It has been a year of loss and a year of growth.  It has been a year of pain and a year of joy.  It has been a year of suffering and a year of progressing.

And in 2012, I have a plan and a path to follow.  But I had a plan in 2010, and look where that led me.  So now I am resigned to the fact that no matter how many plans I make, life is unlikely to yield to my will.  But I retain the power to shape my life events by changing my attitude.

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