- “Good morning, Pooh Bear,” said Eeyore gloomily. “If it is a good morning,” he said. “Which I doubt,” said he.
- “Why, what’s the matter?”
- “Nothing, Pooh Bear, nothing. We can’t all, and some of us don’t. That’s all there is to it.”
- “Can’t all what?” said Pooh, rubbing his nose.
- “Gaiety. Song-and-dance. Here we go round the mulberry bush.”
- ~Winnie the Pooh
We both encounter people, all the time, whose attitudes are much like Eeyore’s. People who see life as a constant challenge, a continuous struggle, and who have a ‘survival of the fittest’ mentality. The friend who thinks that God is out to get him–if there even is a God, who feels as if nothing goes his way, life is just a series of bad events and then we die; a coworker who thinks that the boss is out to get her–she can never get ahead and hers is by far the toughest job in the office; a classmate who always sees everybody else as being better off than she is, more successful and popular, better looking, more athletic, and more financial stable.
Why is it that some of us have such a negative outlook on life? Like Eeyore, their perspective is always dark, discouraged, and disappointed. And rightly so for some. Life often is difficult and full of challenges. And most times we can’t help, or avoid, many of those unforeseen difficulties and challenging situations.
But…we do have a choice in the way we react to them. Both of us know what it is like; life is often not easy. Tom, for example, wakes us every day and (tries) to go to bed every night in severe pain. Since high school, Tom has been trying to overcome chronic back pain due to a genetically inherited spinal condition requiring multiple fusion surgeries.. And not just lower back pain, but pain in his joints throughout his body. One, if not the only, perk of his joint pain, is his ability to predict the weather a day or two in advance :). He has suffered numerous injuries such as: a broken toe on his right foot, two broken left ankles, a severely sprained right ankle, two broken elbows requiring more surgery, a broken left wrist, a broken right thumb, and four major concussions. Some of these injuries were athletic related so they could possibly have been prevented, but many of them were freak accidents outside of his control. Michael has a twenty-four year old son who has severe developmental disabilities and autism. He cannot speak. He has the mentality of an approximate two-year-old. He stills wears diapers. He cannot dress or feed himself. He constantly bangs his head, pulls his mother’s hair, smacks his father hard, and overturns chairs and throws breakable objects wherever he goes. His condition greatly limits what Michael and his family are able to do, both professionally and personally.
But both Tom and Michael have chosen not to let those things negatively impact their lives. Instead we choose to find joy and blessings in our circumstances. This week despite his pain, Tom has chosen to see what is good: his two year old son racing to greet him as he enters the front door after an exhausting day at work saying, ‘Da home, Da home’, the unexpected news of his wife’s pregnancy with their third child, and the news that his loan went through at the bank so they can start looking for a new home. On those rare occasions when Michael’s son Matthew makes eye-contact with those steel blue eyes, an uncommon thing for people with autism, it melts his heart. When Matthew laughs and squeals with exhilarating abandon when sitting on a beach and allowing the waves to wash up over him he shows what unconditional joy is all about. When he leans in to be kissed he breaks through that impenetrable shield that he lives in most of the time and for an instant there is a connection beyond compare. Each of these things, and so many more, lift us above the difficulties and challenges of our lives, reminding us that life can truly be good and filled with grace, and wonder, and love.
We all have the tendency to look at life like Eeyore. But life is so much better, so much richer, so much more fulfilling, when we choose instead to see the light in the darkness, the hope in the despair, and the blessings even in the trials.