LessonsSpecial Guest, Sunday November 5th, 2006
“You can't be brave if you've only had wonderful things happen to you" ?-- Mary Tyler Moore
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That quote reminds me so much of another lesson I learned years ago:
“You can’t appreciate your blessings if you’ve never experienced hardship.”
I don’t know if that’s a direct quote from anyone; all I remember is my mother bringing this point up every once-in-a-while to make sure we kids knew why we weren’t given all the things we wanted, or didn’t get to do all the stuff the other kids did. Somehow this was supposed to make us feel better about things. Of course, it makes sense now. But, it was nothing more than nonsense to a nine-year-old back then.
Funny how certain lessons stick with a person over time. We can live and learn every single day, but there are a select few that remain constant, guiding us as we go along. For instance, I was told that anyone who loves animals and is kind to them is a good person. That’s been my experience, with little exception. And, fear and misunderstanding will generally promulgate into hate and negativity. In dissecting the latter, that’s usually the case.
Who among us doesn’t remember, “Sticks and stones will break my bones…” Hardly seems deep enough to fit side-by-side with the above, does it? I imagine that little ditty’s purpose was created with the intention to toughen us up. They’re just words, we were told. It’s not like we got beat over the head with a tire iron or anything. Yet, just like the lessons that remain, those same words that were meant to hurt our feelings can linger for a lifetime, too.
So, how does one separate the two? How do we take a painful memory and feel good about ourselves because we’re now stronger for it, and at the same time forget how bad it hurt and, in some cases, still does? Maybe, just maybe, we’re not supposed to. If all we had was the memory of the injury, and didn’t still feel it emotionally, I suppose it may not have the same effect, the same impact.
For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Newton probably had no idea the extent to which this statement had. I can say with almost one hundred percent certainty that he didn’t have our emotions in mind at the time. I wonder - does the size of the hurt measure equally to the size of the resulting inner strength? And where’s the breaking point? Just how much can we learn and become a stronger, better person in spite of our hardships before things have gone too far and irreparable damage is done? And, how much of that is in our own control?
I guess if I knew the answers, I’d have a different career than the one I have now. But, that’s why we all have the gift of free will to speculate and analyze. It’s my opinion that each person’s capability of enduring emotional pain is unique, as well as the resulting effect. Each person’s past experiences up to the point of the injury has a direct relationship on how that person will react, accept, or crumble in the face of adversity. Each person’s environment will play a role; each person’s astrological status will have an influence; each person’s chemical makeup and physical attributes may contribute. Even the slightest disparity between two individuals will result in different outcomes.
So, what’s my point? Where was I going with all this? I guess I was just emphasizing the importance of our diversity and how essential it can be to keep in mind that what may work for us, what level of tolerance we each have for our own well-being could be enough to severely wound another. And, if that’s the case, wouldn’t we all be better off not to risk it at all?
My grandmother told me once, “God gave you one mouth, and two ears. What does that tell you?”
I made up my own rule many years ago and have tried feverishly to abide by it without fail:
“You can never regret saying something you never said.”
I’m still working on it and probably will be until the day they throw that first shovelful of dirt on my decaying remains. Until then, I’ll aspire to being faithful to my own rule and, one day, may honestly say, “I’ve really learned my lesson. Today, I don’t regret a thing.”
Cindy Betsinger is a wife, mother and grandmother living in Wisconsin.
Writing has become a favorite hobby of hers in the last few years. She
is the co-adminstrator of a private writers' board, and has had her
stories and poetry published in several webzines. She recently
completed her first novel and is anxiously seeking publication.