20 May 2015

Don't be afraid to fail

Don't be afraid to fail?

Easy for you to say.

I have a family depending on me. If I lose this account, I am finished with this company. My numbers are just above the dead-line, and at my age, they are just looking for a reason to shove me right out of here.  We'll lose our house, the kids will have to change schools, our couples therapy will have to stop. 

Easy for you to say.

I am living in this country illegally, and the cash-paid day work that I get is the only thing that is keeping my wife and children back home from being out on the street. If I can't manage to keep sending them something, anything, I have no idea if I will see them again.

Easy for you to say.

If I don't stay clean this time, I am going to get yanked out of the methadone program. That will mean back to hustling, stealing, and panhandling for the junk. I don't have another winter on the streets left in me. I just don't. 

Easy for you to say.

I don't know which is worse: being angry at my son for his dumb-ass friends or being angry at this dumb-ass city. Nobody seems to care if my son and a generation of young men like him get shot like dogs in the street. 

Easy for you to say.

Why did he leave again? Where is he this time? Why did I choose this person to fall in love with, am I nuts? Why oh why did this wonderful generous universe choose to drop this person into my lap, this one person who can't seem to love me back, but won't leave me alone, either. I am so confused I feel sick most of the time.

You're right. I'm not you. I do know one thing about you though, which is that you are so much more than your struggles. I know, too, that inside of all that pain and confusion is a goldmine of experience that makes you an expert in things that I could never begin to understand. I also know that today, right now, you can start shifting your perspective towards sharing your expertise with someone who needs it badly. Right now. I know that one of the greatest cures for a shitty terrible life is helping someone that is worse off than you. And I know that because you are conscious of your own vulnerability, you have something that someone around you needs desperately, right now. Look around; it won't take you long to find that person.

Have you read John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath? I'm not going to spoil it for you if you haven't read it, but at the end there is an act of kindness between two people who are both completely at the end of the road. An act of instinctual kindness so tiny and insignificant that it is played out millions of times every day across the globe. It's context makes it highly significant because while a tiny act for one of the parties, it is a life-saving act for the other.

How are we to know the significance of our acts of kindness? We can't. We just have to keep doing them and turning them under the soil, over and over and over.

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