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embracing the suck.


Emily McDowell empathy card. Available at Milagro.

There are few people who have influenced me as much as my dad. He spent a good 31 years trying to convince me my attitude and contentment in life were solely my responsibility. That I could always choose how I process the s#*! thrown at me. Unfortunately it took cancer to convince me he’s right. You could call me hard headed.

I chatted recently with a friend who had just lost her mother. She said in some such words there are two different kinds of people she encounters in life – those who get it, and those who don’t. She never really specified what “it” is to her, but the principle above is what “it” is to me.

Every day, something sucky is bound to happen. And it will run the gamut from failed plans, to regrettable words or actions, to news of an unfair diagnosis, a heart breaking accident, or unfathomable shooting. The phrase “everything happens for a reason” sounds unhelpful and even arrogant. I prefer to think, “how can I use this to be better and do better?”

If I’ve planned and fail, I get to learn and get the opportunity to create new ideas. If I disappoint myself (happens often) with how I treat or speak to people, I get to apologize (yay!) which is hard but feels good and I get to do better tomorrow. If I’m bombarded with bad news about people I love or people I don’t even know, I’m renewed in my efforts to spread extra levels of kindness and goodness to everyone I encounter, since I never know where they’ve been or what might happen tomorrow.

So while I’m done pretending to know the reasons life blows sometimes, I can try to give purpose and worth to the suck. The real tragedy would be to disconnect and throw up my hands. Even worse would be allowing the dark to turn me hard and bitter. I plan to choose, all day every day, not to let the suck go to waste. The suck is where I learn. The suck is where I grow. It’s one of the unfortunate lessons of life I’ve been fortunate enough to learn.


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