Beating the Odds Part 2

When It Doesn't Happen

Posted Mar 24, 2018

A month or so ago I posted a blog about my own beating the odds, coming from a chaotic, challenging childhood, populated by funny, loving, unstable, unpredictable, sometimes (but rarely) mean people and how, even though the deck was statistically severely stacked against me, I managed to beat the odds with the help of many, many other people, and a few pets as well.

          A number of people have somewhat ruefully responded to that blog, to the effect of, "Well, bully for you, but what about the rest of us who weren't so lucky?  What have you got to say to us?"

           First of all, I have this to say: I'm sorry.  I didn't mean to sound smug or self-satisfied. Quite the opposite.  If anything, I feel amazed and astonished, the way one must feel when one wins the lottery (I've never won, so I do not know that feeling firsthand).  And I also hasten to add that my life is full of stress, worry, problems, and concerns.  I have far from a perfect life.  Yes, I have a much better life than statistics would have predicted, but life is still life, and stuff does still happen, bad people and bad events still do crop up, and one must always be ready to tackle unexpected dilemmas with scant resources.

            But to those of you who never received love, to those of you who suffered horrific abuse, to those of you who gave and gave and never received comfort of any kind, to those of you who are still waiting for the first kind word or gesture, I have at least this much to offer.  There are people who care. You can find them if you look.  It is hard to look when you've been hurt so very much.  You can find them not only in the obvious places--churches, synagogues, shelters, blood banks, hospitals, schools--but actually everywhere--street corners, banks, checkout counters, gyms, football games, coffee shops, bars, bus stops, fire stations, shopping malls, and chat rooms.  Care, the invisible force we all need to survive, floats around everywhere waiting to be tapped.

            The more you've been hurt, the more you've been deprived, the more you need it, but also the more afraid you are to ask for it because you've been disappointed so many, many times.  I often urge people to start with a dog.  Dogs are the world's best givers of love.  I've never met a dog I couldn't love and who couldn't love me back.  Dogs don't fake it and don't ask for anything in return.  Maybe start with a dog.

              Then maybe make friends with a place, like a Starbucks, or a corner of a library, or a bench in a park.  Make friends with an author, or a composer, or a painter.  Develop a deep relationship with beauty.  Let beauty give you what your parents and your childhood couldn't.  Let the repair proceed slowly.  Slowly but surely.

              Please don't think I am saying this is easy.  I am just saying that it is my experience that the force of connection, however you find it, is the most powerful force of healing that we have.  Connection is by and large free, and it is infinite in supply.  All you need do to access it is to allow that little bubble of hope to burst forth from deep within you.  Instead of holding back on it out of fear, let that little bit of hope begin to bring you some joy.