“Not All Who Wander Are Lost,” by J. R. R. Tolkien
We all have life events that determine our destiny and disposition in life — an ailing family member, a divorce, a breakup, the death of a friend, and so it goes. By the time the moment has lapsed, it is very easy to lose yourself, especially when there are so many potential changes looming: kids growing up and moving out, parents aging and possibly moving in, changes in jobs, retiring, an ex dating someone new…
It’s almost impossible to expect yourself or someone else to come out of it unchanged and unscathed. It boils down to making a choice: We can confront these life events, seize the opportunity of transition, and push ourselves to be better and move on – or we can get stuck in the mire.
The hope is that these unwanted traumas result in productive and positive changes for those fortunate/unfortunate enough to experience them.
Making Lemonade Out of Lemons
“When life gives you lemons, make lemonade” is a proverbial phrase meant to instill optimism in times of adversity.
Perhaps the reason why this quote, and others like it, resonates is because it reminds us of the “sourness” of our own lives, and the trials and tribulations we face.
So, what if something unpleasant happens? And what if you didn’t realize at first the lesson embedded in the moment? What kind of remarkable things might the moment add up to? Who might you become after the moment passes?
Each of these moments or “life traumas” has the potential to be the catalyst of the smallest or biggest revolution, if only you allow your filter to see them as such.
Viktor Frankl, the author of “A Man’s Search for Meaning,” was a Holocaust survivor whose parents, brother and pregnant wife all perished in the camps. What he took away from that unconceivable horror became the basis for his life-long work. “We who lived in the concentration camps,” he wrote, “can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms — to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” And when we remember we have that choice, and act on it, we can begin to create change. “Between stimulus and response there is a space,” Frankl wrote. “In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”
We are not perfect creatures and we all make mistakes. The world is not a fair place and bad things happen to good (and bad) people. The point is that in our response lies our ability to create real change and impact. And even if the initial response isn’t a good one, the moment as a whole is still an opportunity to grow and become a better version of you.
Insight, Understanding, and Awareness
Be mindful that misfortunes will happen, and will occur over and over again. It’s in how we learn and grow from these moments that shape us, for better or for worse.
And if all else fails, just put some damn vodka in the lemonade…
Photo Cred: @ryangreenleaf
Thanks for reading!