My Year of Living Dangerously

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What do you do when life seems to totally fall apart?

What do you do when everything you thought you could count on turns to quicksand?

You survive to tell about it. That’s really your only option.

A year ago, I had to face a very unpleasant fact. My marriage was over. No way to repair it. And of course the ripple effect of that was that nothing was stable.

Nothing.

To be completely honest, I felt like giving up. I felt like swimming out to the middle of my lake and just letting it take me. The idea that I would find death soothing terrified me.

Especially with my dear friend Angela fighting cancer. I knew she couldn’t win that battle. It seemed so unfair.

She had two young children. Mine were grown. They could live without me.

I even offered God my life for hers.

But God didn’t see it that way. So…she and I were both left to fight our individual battles.

Both are tough battles. To accept death. Or to accept life. Neither is easy.

Both come with their lessons.

Lesson from Angela’s battle: death is not the end.

Lesson from my battle: life goes on until it’s not meant to go on any longer.

Mine was meant to go on.

And it has taken me on some unexpected paths.

Perhaps that has been the biggest lesson of all. Life is not a super highway. It’s not even a dirt road. It’s really just a series of steps, and you don’t always know where each step is going to lead. You just have to have the faith to take it. But then, what else can you do? Your foot has to land somewhere.

My path took me back into the classroom, where I hadn’t been for over a decade. And it was in one of the most impoverished school districts in the state.

To say it has been challenging is an understatement. Now I’m ready to pack up and move back home. Not completely sure what my next step is, but I know there is another step to be made.

And I’m now better able to take that step.

Being away from home taught me more self-reliance, and also taught me about communities and how they can best help themselves.

Like it is for us as individuals, the best advice is to not give up, and to use your pain to grow.

I’ve seen a lot of individuals and a community in pain. There is a tendency to want to anesthetize pain rather than to feel it and deal with it. I can tell you that will not help. As a matter of fact, it’s the worst thing you can do, because then you come to accept the pain as a normal part of life, and you lose your desire to fix it. It’s like the proverbial frog in hot water…by the time you realize you are being cooked, it’s too late.

So…my advice is feel the pain. Learn from it. Fix it.

That’s what I’ve done.

It hasn’t all been pretty, but it’s going to make one hell of a book.

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