When Should We Let Challenges Go And Let Real Life Flow?
Getting caught up in our internal dramas doesn't always help us conquer them.
Posted Dec 16, 2017
Talk to almost anyone you know and they’ll likely tell you that 2017 has been a year full of challenges. There are the kind of challenges that are playing out on the national and international stages. As well as those that directly affect our lives in a more immediately fashion. No one, it seems, is immune. And with a recent death in the family and my spouse’s unforeseen job layoff (amidst other trials and tribulations), these so-called challenges have also targeted yours truly.
Of course, “targeted” is not an accurate word for me to use because there’s not really a target on my back. In fact, I’ve learned that thinking with a victim mentality usually results in people treating me like a victim, which never brings about positive results.
And yet there was one day about a month ago that had me feeling like I was on the losing end of the universe’s stick. Anything and everything that could go wrong on this particular day was doing just that. And although some of these occurrences were trivial, others were going to have lasting effects on certain areas of my life. By the time 2:30 in the afternoon rolled around (I remember the time because I was in my car, running late for a meeting), I felt like waving a big white flag and shouting “Enough already!” to the heavens above. (Cue the “Why me,” music, would you?)
This is the moment that I pulled up to a stoplight and noticed someone readying to cross the street. There, waiting for the ‘walk’ sign to ignite, was a young man in a wheelchair. But this wasn’t just any young man. This was someone who, while waiting for his opportunity to enter the crosswalk, was looking up at the sun, smiling. His glow and positive energy was palpable. And I was floored. Here was someone who appeared to be living life in the present moment and seemed to be enjoying everything life had to offer as a result. (Pivot to me, behind my steering wheel, fuming over the day’s events—all of which suddenly seemed very incidental.)
I was so moved by this person that I immediately snapped out of my self-imposed funk (AKA “victim mentality”). I was careful to not shift into shame (something I would often do to “punish myself” years ago when I weighed over 450 pounds). Instead, I laughed—realizing that all of things that I’d been lamenting over were temporary. Not to mention real life. And that they were things that everyone around me has to deal with. Perhaps even this beaming young man in the wheelchair.
As he crossed on the crosswalk in front of my car, I was tempted to roll down the window and shout “Thank you.” I held back. But I thought it to myself, big time. And this attitude of gratitude that I gained from seeing this person has remained with me ever since. Suddenly I wasn’t interested in waving a white flag or exclaiming “Poor me,” as much as I was just wanting to look up at the sun and soak in its rays—no matter what else happened to be going on in my life (and whether or not I might deem these things as “good” or “bad”).
If you’re reading this while having a bad day, week or year, I sincerely hope things turn around for you. And I hope the tale of this person who was living life to its fullest—and in the moment—might inspire you to do the same. I’m not discounting your challenges or problems. This can sometimes be a rough planet. But it can also be a giving one… In the form of a stranger who, out of the blue, can remind us that life can be as beautiful as we allow it to be. No sunshine, crosswalk or even wheelchair necessary to do so.