Nobody said life was easy. Life is good. But life isn’t easy.
In our youth we don’t understand the natural law of compounding. If we did, we may have paid closer attention to our decisions and perhaps listened more to our elders. But no, youth is king, and we knew better. Just watch us prove you wrong. We will do better. It will be different for us. Easier. It won’t turn out as people had warned.
It does turn out like our elders warned.
I say this as a well-adjusted adult having gone through my youth with typical ignorance and naivete. Yes, I did act immature at times, but I also paid the price of my mistakes as I made them and promised to learn from them and do better. And I’m grateful to say, I have.
I tell my children that my observations, warnings, and guidance of their life in no way points to my expectation for them to be perfect, and not to fail, and to not make any mistakes. I tell them I’m trying to prepare them with the tools to better process those mistakes and failures and hopefully avoid any life-damaging choices that put a noose around their neck.
Charles Dickens had it right when he taught us through Ebenezer Scrooge, “I wear the chains I forged in life, I made them link by link”. This is exactly what we do. Regret and anger, cruelty and neglect, they make up the chains we wear, and the reality is, the length and weight of our chain is in our hands and a direct ratio to our poor decisions. They are the consequences.
I look around and I see the wreckage of choices of the people I care for that were put in motion many, many years ago. It’s hard to witness. It’s even harder to accept there is absolutely nothing I can do to fix their problems or end the struggle of the consequences of their choices even though I try in vain to help them solve a problem that they have no intention of fixing.
It’s like watching a drowning person and you want so desperately to save their life. You see them flailing madly in the water and you know they could take you both down if you dove in after them, but you can’t just stand by and watch. So, you throw them a life preserver and scream to them, “It’s right there, next to you, just grab hold!” But they don’t. They can’t see it through the turmoil and chaos as they flail about in anger, or fear and panic. It’s right next to them, waiting to help but they don’t take it, and you watch their struggle knowing they could save themselves if they would grab ahold and swim to shore.
I’ve learned to accept this is true for people drowning in life. It’s their life to live and the truth is we have to realize their troubles didn’t just happen overnight and there are countless events from yesterday that indeed shaped their “today”:
It’s failure to make good emotional choices that keeps a person out of a bad relationship or destructive friendships or tension with the in-laws that creates stress and anxiety that drain our life force and vitality.
It’s the neglect of the body by eating badly, choosing to stay on the couch instead of recognizing the necessity of movement, and disrespecting the importance of sleep that breaks the body down at a rapid pace.
It’s the disregard for staying committed to learning new things, dismissing the need to stay engaged to people and the world and laughing off the benefit of mental stimulation that accelerates our cognitive deterioration.
It was too much work. There were better, more important things that had to be done. They didn’t have time and they didn’t feel it was critical to make time.
These are the links of neglect. They don’t disappear or evaporate as time passes. They are forged link by link over the years until they hang like heavy chains around their neck until they can no longer ignore them or the limitations that come with them. They have-to remove their chains.
I have always and will always lend a helping and loving hand to people trying to heal and choose to learn and grow.
I’ve also learned, I cannot force anyone to take my hand, or want to heal, or commit to learn and grow. As much as it pains me to watch people struggle, I’m witnessing a lifetime of choices that has put them there and the pain is not the mistakes they’ve made but the fact they are incapable of realizing they do have the capacity of making the necessary choices to heal, and learn and grow, and change their situation for a reality of their making. First, they have-to decide to grab hold of the life-preserver.
Keep it Simple,