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children hand in hand

Together We Can Do More

Creative Commons LicensePhoto credit: Lara604

Growth is never by mere chance; it is the result of forces working together.

— James Cash Penney (JC PENNEY)

It’s only the middle of January and already it’s been a challenging year.  Within my small group of friends and coworkers, there have been three deaths in our families and two major automobile accidents.  Today, the Ladies of Literature had their annual meeting to toast the new year and pick our books for 2012.  One of our members said that 2012 had to get better from here.  Another member predicted that we just might look back on 2011 as a really good year once we saw what 2012 had in store for us.  YIKES!!!

He-e-ere Comes 2012

Life is unpredictable.  We manage to get through the challenges that face us because of the kindness of friends, family, and even of strangers.  You never know when your experience will help someone else get through one of their challenges.

One of the things that has most surprised me is the openness with which people talk about their troubles, especially their financial troubles.  My mother always pretended that we were doing fine and for the longest time I had tried to maintain the façade, but what I’ve found is that sometimes my challenges match someone else’s needs.  When that happens, then my struggle can be the primer for their successful journey through similar challenges.  It can give meaning to the struggle.

Over and over, I make the same mistake.  I think that I’m the only one who has ever struggled in the way I’m currently struggling.  I’m the only one who’s ever been unemployed for a long time.  I’m the only one who’s been in foreclosure.  I’m the only one with crazy family members – well, actually, I know that’s not true.  My family members have me in their circle so they also have at least one crazy family member.

Even when we see people on the news who are going through similar challenges, we often think that our situation is different in some way.  Somehow, we’re more to blame.  Somehow, they deserve help, and we don’t.

I think that this type of thinking is based on a faulty premise.  We believe that we always need to make the right decision.  If we’d made a better decision, then everything would be fine.  To some extent, this type of thinking is magical thinking.  It’s almost a superstition.  Life happens and sometimes, sh** happens.  Good decisions or bad decisions, there are many things that are out of our control.  That’s not a comfortable thought, but it is the truth.  The best we can do is what we can do with the situation we’re currently facing.

Join Forces

And to do the best we can, we need to reach out.  We need to tap into the “tribal memory” of those around us.  We don’t have to learn everything ourselves, the hard way.  We can participate in sharing our mistakes and our wisdom.  We can help make someone else’s journey a little easier by helping them avoid the pot holes and we can avoid pot holes by listening to the stories of others who have passed this way before us.  Their path may not be our path.  But their wisdom may help us find our path.

If the last five years have taught us anything, it’s that change can happen so very quickly.  And we need to remember that lesson.  Change can happen quickly.  That means good change as well as bad change.  And change doesn’t just happen to us, we can create it.  If we don’t like what’s happening, we can change it.

But, sometimes we forget that we have the power of choice.

Today, we are where we are.  There are many ways forward from here, if we don’t allow life to beat us down.  But, in order to see the many paths, we have to lift our heads up, look around, square our shoulders, make choices, and get moving.  We don’t need to do this alone.  Out there in the world, someone has been where we are.  And even if we can’t find that person, there are people willing to make this journey with us.

Life is unpredictable.  It can be difficult.  And, as Robert Fulghum said in his book, [amazon-product text=”Everything I Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten” type=”text”]034546639X[/amazon-product], “When you go out into the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands, and stick together.”  Alone, our options are limited.  Together, our options expand and the support of others helps us achieve more than we ever dreamed.  Together, we are powerful.

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