“To everything there is a season…a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance … ” ~Ecclesiastes 3:1-4
King Solomon, who purportedly penned the words quoted above, was a wise person; he was also a real person, by which I mean that he spoke truth. His famous reflection upon life’s seasonality is grounded in deep humanity. Life is hard. Life is good. Life is beautiful. Life is brutal. Life is all of it. Solomon understood that life is not a hayride of never-ending hunkydoryness.
It’s good to be reminded of life’s seasonality every now and again. It helps, particularly living in this crazy-ass culture that believes that we should all be happy all the time. Happiness is wonderful, to be sure, and I like it as much as the next gal, but happiness is but one crayon in a big box of emotional colors. Not to mention that it is ephemeral. This is important to say out loud because it is disturbingly easy to get sucked into the unspoken edict that if you are not happy, something is wrong. If you are not well, or successful, or as giddy, rich and beautiful as the Duchess of Sussex, you are failing at life.
Last week as I drove to school to pick up my kids, I was running though the sad, short list that seems to fill the mid-life mind like gray sludge — health, money, work, kids, money, health — when a radio interview of a current Hollywood star caught my attention and pulled me out of my dull reverie.
The guy being interviewed is starring in a huge Hollywood blockbuster and is about to premier another, but before all this goodness came into his life, he had been without work for two years. Two years. Toward the end of that long, bleak stretch of nothingness, a major producer (now persona non grata, rhymes with Feinstein) told him his career was over. Period. He left that producer’s office, sat down on the curb, and seriously considered those words. He wondered if he should give up. And then the miracle phone call came and everything changed, as it does. The interviewer asked him what he took from this experience (besides, one assumes, the schadenfreude about the producer’s demise) and I waited to hear some trite, pat response involving the words “perseverance” and “hope.” Surprisingly (and refreshingly), the actor paused for some moments and then replied, “Life is curly.”
Life is curly. It takes unexpected twists and turns. It just does. It always does. And the thing is, you don’t know when the turn is coming, or what the turn will bring, or when it’s going to turn back, or how long the turn will last, or anything. All you know for sure is that life will turn. The actor had gleaned an important philosophy from his nothing-to-everything experience: “This, too, shall pass.” The good times are going to pass away. So are the rough times. And then they’ll come back and do it all over again. So hang on, little tomato. Don’t get too high and mighty. Don’t get too down and depressed. Or if you do, just know that it’s all going to go away. King Solomon called it a few thousand years ago. This is my remix. I call it Solomon 2.0.
If you are a super-sensitive person, such as myself (what’s called a Highly Sensitive Person in the current literature, or in my family of origin, an Emotional Butt), going through rough patches can easily begin to feel like sinking into quicksand. The blows of misfortune are taken very, very hard on all levels: emotionally, physically, mentally, even spiritually. Having been in a rough patch for over four years now, it’s tempting to think that this is how it’s going to be. Period. It’s tempting to give up and give in to the inner Eeyore, to some level of defeatism. Just get that part-time job at Target. Accept your physical condition as the new normal. Give up on yourself. Get real. All of that sort of negative, inner-critic, fear-soaked crap. So hearing this radio oracle came at an opportune moment for me, as I hope sharing it might for you.
Whatever it is, however hard and real, know that its season will pass, and a new season will come. It will. We can remind each other of this on the dark days. We can remind ourselves in the dark nights. In the meantime — all the time, actually — let yourself be real and feel. It’s okay. Feel it all. Enjoy the goodness. Cry when it’s hard. That’s what human beings are designed to do. Just keep in mind that life is curly.
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