Sometimes Enduring is All You Can Do.
There. I said it. I've broken one of the cardinal rules of effective blogging: Give your post a title that promises to solve all our problems in “3 Surefire Steps to the Perfect Life.” Man, do I wish that stuff wasn't such a complete and total lie designed to take advantage of the desperate and boost traffic. It is almost as big a lie as “God will bless you by clicking ‘like’ and posting “Amen.” These kinds of promises are called “click bait” and are designed to convince more people to click on (and hopefully read) your article. I understand that desire. I want as many people to read and share what I have to write IF they find it helpful and worthy. But what good is it to promise the moon if you can't deliver, and I certainly can't deliver on three sure fire steps to your perfect life. Life is messy. It doesn't respond well to guarantees and formulas. I'm writing this because I'm not having a great day. I've got some things at work that are troubling me, several major unexpected expenses at home, and a back that still hurts after several trips to pain management. I am experiencing what most of you are currently experiencing: life. And life is messy and not always under our control. There are a lot of things we cannot control, like the nonsense coming from Washington, physical ailments, the economy, and bad luck. We live under the delusion that we can control everything, and when we realize through hard experience that we can't, we adopt a new delusion that we SHOULD be able to control everything.
Sometimes, the best we can do is endure. Just keep going. Just keep living. Sure, we can stop and throw either a tantrum or a pity party, but ultimately that just delays the inevitable. We keep going. I believe that we are always responsible for ourselves. We may not be able to change the junk weighing us down, but we can decide to just keep going. Sometimes enduring is all we can do. Many find that bleak and depressing and maybe it is, but the ancient Stoics found it liberating. They gave themselves permission to quit worrying about anything they cannot change. Christians pray “The Serenity Prayer” of Reinhold Niebuhr asking for “the serenity to accept the things we cannot change, the courage to change the things we can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” The world can make it pretty hard on us sometimes. Sometimes, the most defiant act is to just keep going. If that is all you are able to do today, do it. It is your victory. Sometimes all you can do is endure. Let's at least do that today.
For a little more inspiration, here’s a quote or two to get you through:
“To achieve freedom and happiness, you need to grasp this basic truth: some things in life are under your control, and others are not…“If it is not within your control, it is nothing to you; there’s nothing to you.”
The Serenity Prayer
God grant me the serenity
To accept the things I cannot change;
Courage to change the things I can;
And wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
As it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
If I surrender to His Will;
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life
And supremely happy with Him
Forever and ever in the next. Amen.
Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole.
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have nor winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance,
My head is bloody but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find me, unafraid.
It matters not how straight the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate,
I am the captain of my soul.
(William Earnest Henley)