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Posts Tagged ‘hope’

  1. One Good Reason to Stay Alive

    February 12, 2017 by Diane

    Praying Woman

    On Twitter, I saw this plea:

    Could someone please suggest reasons it’s a good idea I should keep being alive?

    Reasons to keep being alive. In 140 characters.

    This was a challenge I couldn’t pass up.

    Chocolate. If you’re thinking of checking out, you won’t be taking your taste buds. So stick around for chocolate.

    Okay, I didn’t tweet that. There was nothing humorous about the tweeter’s question, although sometimes humor can be the lifeline we need when drowning in despair.

    I knew of a comedian who worked the suicide prevention hotline, and when asked “Give me one  good reason I should stay alive,” he told the caller, “Give me a break. You called me.”

    Yowza.

    Isn’t it interesting, the plea is always the same? Give me a reason to stay alive. Because being alive, in and of itself, isn’t reason enough. Being alive, for the person pleading, has become too horrible to endure.

    What we really want, when we’re that desperate, is a reason to endure the pain.

    I heard Bruce Lipton, the author of The Biology of Belief, say: we live in order to experience life through our senses, for God. (Or something along those lines. I jotted the phrase in the back of the book, but the book is stashed away, along with about a hundred others, in storage.)

    If indeed it’s our duty to experience what God can’t, that seems like a pretty swell reason to stay alive.

    Provided you believe in God.

    And provided you accept that experiencing life sometimes involves the sense of pain.

    I read recently: to strengthen and build muscles, we need to tax them, break them down a bit, give them time to recuperate, then tax them again. That’s how they grow.

    It’s the same with people. We’re given circumstances that tax us and break us down. If we take time to recuperate, then we build our strength and grow with each new challenge.

    Now, I could come up with a long list of good reasons that are meaningful to me and don’t mean squat to the person on Twitter. But somewhere in her vast file cabinet of life experiences there’s one thing that matters. Deeply.

    If I had more than 140 characters, or we were talking on the phone or in person, I might have said: “Instead of thinking about ending it all, sort through your memory banks, or take a look around you, and track down that one thing that matters. By the time you find it, whatever brought you to despair will have shifted. Just enough, so the light can shine in.”

    But this person chose to plead for her life on Twitter. So I replied:

    Don’t choose a permanent solution to a temporary problem. The pain will pass. You’re meant to contribute something positive to this world.

    Last I checked, the tweeter did find a good reason: she chose to start painting again. That one thing, painting, helped crack open the darkness.

    If you ever find yourself backed into a corner feeling like your only option is to throw in the life towel, please please please remember this: that one thing—whether it’s your spouse, your kid, your parent, your sibling, your friend, your cat, your art, your dream, or that philodendron in the windowsill—it needs you.

    Then drive down to See’s Candies, pick out a luscious piece of chocolate, and savor it. For God.


  2. The Upside To Being an Introvert

    August 30, 2015 by Diane

     

    Hipster girl holding a stack of books

    In junior high, I had a physical education teacher who doubled as drama coach. Mrs. Wattenberger, a stout woman with calves like footballs, whose goal was to make us “sweat like pigs” (an odd and impossible feat), directed the school play. I don’t recall the name of the play; it was the sort of melodrama you’d find in a volume titled Best Plays for Junior High School Students Who Need to Sweat Like Pigs, requiring zero royalties and minimal scenery. We performed this low-budget flop in my seventh year of formal education, and I landed the choice role of “The Curtain,” along with eleven other boys and girls.

    Here is the gist of our performance:

    At the end of every scene, we scuttled single file onstage holding a length of fabric, faced the audience, announced “the curtain falls,” and promptly collapsed to the floor. After several excruciating seconds of silence we announced, “the curtain rises,” scrambled to our feet and scuttled off, stage left.

    Mrs. Wattenberger was over the moon with my debut. “It’s so wonderful to see Diane come out of her shell,” she gushed to my parents after the matinee, as if she and her football-sized calves had booted me from a life doomed as an introvert.

    I’m sure she meant well, but I cringed.

    I cringed every time someone labeled me “shy” or “withdrawn” or some such demeaning adjective aimed to snap me out of my supposed state of suffering. And suffer I did.

    Not because I kept to myself, preferring to read a book rather than socialize, speaking only when I had something of value to say, but because others viewed me as flawed.

    From my perspective, those praised as being “extroverts” were the flawed ones, uncomfortable with their own company, attempting to flee it by surrounding themselves with others, feeding on mass energy like vampires sucking the life force from mortals for survival. I was as unfair in my assessment of them as Mrs. Wattenberger was of me.

    Susan Cain, in her book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, explodes the myth that introversion is a failing. She reveals the upside of the introverted personality—the positive traits, the contributions to society—and points out how the world benefits by valuing the quiet among us.

    It would be years, cringing from such labels, before I discovered what Susan Cain had uncovered through meticulous research. If I could, I would travel back in time, shove Mrs. Wattenberger aside, look deeply into the eyes of my younger self and say, “Stand proud in who you are.”

    But I can’t.

    I can, however, look deeply into the eyes of my fellow introverts and say this:

    Stand proud, you who keep mystery alive by wearing disguises in your profile photos, you book-lovers and creative forces who listen intently so others may be heard. Stand proud, you who converse in your heads sharing aloud only what adds value to your worlds, who make large talk, not small, thinking fully before speaking. Stand proud, you who live in awareness, form deep friendships, add calm to hectic environments and tremble when revealing yourself—because it’s a gift you give, and it doesn’t come lightly.

    Stand proud in who you are.


  3. Your World is How You View It

    April 19, 2015 by Diane

    Young Woman Capturing Photo Using Vintage Camera. Monochrome Por

    Picture a world where magic is commonplace. Where people of all creeds and colors sing together in harmony. Where fun is had at any age, and food is plentiful, and everyone is merry and childlike and awestruck at least once a day.

    That world exists.

    It’s the world of Disney.

    I recently watched Saving Mr. Banks on DVD. In case you haven’t seen the film, it’s the story of Walt Disney’s quest to purchase the movie rights to Mary Poppins. But the author, P. L. Travers, is a stubborn nut to crack, and doesn’t want to part with her creation. It takes years of wooing and convincing on Disney’s part, but finally the movie gets made. Oh, sure, there’s plenty of backstory revealing why Travers is the persnickety, repressed woman that she is, but those darker scenes are outweighed by the delightful world of Disney Studios, where scriptwriters and lyricists dance around like children (and Bradley Whitford waltzing in a goofy manner is reason enough to watch the film).

    Anyway, it’s a delightful movie, and I was sharing my delight with a neighbor—let’s call her Chicken Little—who agreed. She lit up, and said, “Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we were all just a bit more reserved nowadays?” and then she deflated. “Oh, Diane, the world is going downhill.”

    And I thought…really? What lens are you looking through?

    But I wasn’t about to get into an argument with this woman. I wasn’t about to point out that Saving Mr. Banks is set in the early ‘60s, a time of rampant racism and the brewing of the Vietnam War and the uprising of women fed up being repressed. And before that, there were two world wars and poverty and prohibition and rationing and polio and tuberculosis and some guy named Jack the Ripper. There were men in white coats who carted you away in a straightjacket if you suffered a mental illness. There was the plague and beheadings and…well, you get my drift.

    There were always frightful things afoot, but no immediate broadcasting throwing it into our faces 24/7.

    I understand how Chicken Little came to adopt her particular viewpoint. She scours the internet daily, pouncing on scary, negative stories that will back up her vision of a world in decline. Through the mail she receives angry, doomsday missives from her political party. She seeks out people who hold similar negative views, and together they chew on the gristle of their dissatisfaction.

    But what about the wonderfulness of the universe? It’s there, too. We might not live in a Disney world, but it’s not skidding into skid row, either, regardless of what our elected officials may spout. And while it’s important to be aware of what’s occurring around us—even the horrendous stuff—if we are unable to personally change it for the better, isn’t it best to focus on all that is good? And in so doing, expand that goodness?

    Just as Disney created his own playground of the mind (and a literal one for all of us to scamper in), Chicken Little creates the world she believes in.

    So I write this for the Chicken Little in us all:

    Where do you aim your lens? Do you focus on the fearful tales that the media highlights? Do you dwell on the people in your life who are grit under your eyelids? Do you rehash the mistakes you’ve made?

    Or do you see the possibility in every human being you encounter? Do you remember the times you triumphed? Do you speak uplifting words? Do you find humor in the craziness?

    Where do you aim your lens?

    Because you have a choice. You are the director of your life. You are the producer and the writer and the actor. You have a choice of whether to live in a drama or comedy or romance or fantasy or action-adventure or cartoon. And if you suffer abuse or unemployment or a life-threatening illness, or mental, physical, or spiritual pain of any kind, then you need to sharpen your focus on something joyful. You need to remember: above the clouds, the sun is always shining.

    It’s not easy. Our thoughts are squirrelly things.

    But I do believe it’s necessary. For the sanity of ourselves and our planet.

    So let’s ask ourselves, periodically, throughout the day: Where am I aiming my lens? What view, of all the views in this buffet of life, am I choosing to focus upon?

    And choose the uplifting one.