Published on February 5th, 2020 | by Randy Weeks0
The View from The Balcony: “The Curve Balls of Life” by Randy Weeks
We have met the enemy and he is us. –Pogo
A certain preacher always prays long and with enthusiasm
for thieves and muggers that attack people
on the street. “Let your mercy, O Lord,
cover their insolence.”
He doesn’t pray for the good,
but only for the blatantly cruel.
Why is this? his congregation asks.
“Because they have done me such generous favors.
Every time I turn back toward the things they want.
I run into them, they beat me, and leave me nearly dead
in the road, and I understand, again, that what they want
is not what I want. They keep me on the spiritual path.
That’s why I honor them and pray for them.”
Those that make you return, for whatever reason,
to God’s solitude, be grateful to them.
Worry about the others, who give you
delicious comforts that keep you from prayer.
Friends are enemies sometimes,
and enemies, friends. –Rumi
Sometimes life throws us a curve ball. It has thrown me more than a few. Every now and then, that curve ball, I have discovered, boomeranged and landed right at my own feet, giving testimony to my flaws and poor choices.
How we face adversity, self-inflicted or otherwise, says much about our character. Most of our hard times are a mixture of circumstances and choices. When we cast all the blame for problems we face on others, we deny ourselves the chance to grow. When we include ourselves in the equation by asking what our part in the situation might be, believe it or not, we open the doors of opportunity.
I must thank my late father for a gift he gave me in a strange way. Most of the time my Air Force officer dad was a strict disciplinarian. Sometimes he was light and fun. Then there were times he was excessively harsh, and many of those times seemingly came out of the blue, sudden and fierce, leaving me fear stricken. The zig-zag of all this kept me on my toes and taught me that I had to think ahead―to consider all possibilities and outcomes before I spoke or took action on just about everything, but definitely for those hot-button issues, which were legion.
My defense in those times was a total shut-down of my emotions. Like a possum playing dead, I did nothing. I went into survival mode and became an observer of my own experience. Because of that programming, now, when disaster strikes, I am one of those who will usually keep my cool and act logically until the crisis has passed. If I’m going to have a meltdown it will come later.
But then what?
Asking “Why?” about adversity is not altogether a bad thing, but, in most cases I think the question “What now?” is more valuable. We may gather advice from friends, family, professionals, books, or social media, but ultimately, we must decide for ourselves what our next step will be.
No matter the hardship that befalls us, if we’re going to make it, eventually we have to get a grip. Whether the blame is ours or not, at some point we must do something or die―figuratively speaking, of course. My good friend, the Sheik, says that hindsight is 50/50. If we’re going to grow through our hard times, we can’t afford to have blurry vision.
When we get real with ourselves and are willing to accept responsibility for our own stuff, we free ourselves from the weight of pretense. The way is not always easy. Sometimes it is littered with guilt, shame, and embarrassment. But we cannot go around those things and fare well. We must go through them.
For me, getting real with myself usually means a realignment of thinking and/or behaving through a return to the basics―those tried and true disciplines that are at the foundation of living with integrity―coupled with an openness to thinking and/or doing some things in different ways. I’m usually a better person for having done so.
As for being thankful for having fallen flat on my face, it’s counter-intuitive contrary action. (I know a lot about contrary action!) Still, if the result of the adversity is that I’m made better through it, I can at least be grateful for the results, if not the process. And there are two things you can’t go wrong with: gratitude and kindness.
…and that’s the view from The Balcony.