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Read Letter

Life Happens!

My dear Jil, let me tell you a little bit about life. It’s important you understand life. I’ll tell you a little story. There were four friends, all female, all beautiful. Each was building her business, and each turned out successful. They were all married by the way. Let’s call them Mrs. A, B,C & D. They had this friend. He travelled out of the country. He kind of bound them together. They wouldn’t see him for the next ten years. They didn’t communicate in those ten years. Why? Life can be like that. It’s strange but true. There was no reason they didn’t communicate for ten years. No reason in particular. It wasn’t as if there was a quarrel. It just seemed their friendship was for a time and a place, something like a program. The program got suspended.

He came back into the country on vacation and re-established contact with each. It was as if he never left. They just picked right up where they left. They were most glad to see him. It was as if there was no ten-year gap. Which is kind of strange, though not strange by life’s standard. They picked right up. They spent days reminiscing over those days, talked about how things were – how free they were. They had met seventeen years ago, in their thirties and late thirties. But as they excavated the past, issues began to crop up, issues that made no sense. The issues bordered on accusation and lack of trust. They kind of treated each other like strangers, though not total strangers. Assumptions of innocence were thrown out of the window. The women were now “grown.” They had changed, somehow. They had seen life.
Looking at the roots, the issues raised really had nothing to do with each individual. But sometimes we project our issues on others. Thus a woman having difficulty in her marriage may excoriate a man in another marriage. It has nothing to do with the man. She’s just punishing her husband through him. It’s vicarious liability. People do that a lot. They take their issues out on others. Sometimes it’s vicious. They would defame those in their situation who have the courage to do what they lack courage to do.
As this gentleman spoke to each of the ladies he noticed the changes. Mrs. A was defensive. From their conversation he realised she had been dealt with by some men who imagined her naive. She took umbrage at innocuous statements, was overly sensitive about issues. Our gentleman couldn’t understand what was going on as he suffered the brunt of explorative accusation. That hurt him a little but he took it in the chin.
Mrs. B on the other hand had worry lines etched on her face. Yes, of course she was aging but the worry lines exceeded the regulatory boundaries allocated wear and tear on the body. He didn’t exactly know what could have caused that. All he could think of was, life! She looked a bit tired. That seemed to come from putting in so much effort and getting little in return. She must have been on the treadmill of life. You have to keep running if you’re on a treadmill, no matter how tired you are. We must know when to get off the treadmill. If we don’t we injure ourselves.
As per Mrs. C she just seemed “lost”. She didn’t know where she was in life. She had gone through massive depression from the pressures of life. She had worried too much. Anxiety is debilitating. Anxiety is civil fear. It is fear sliced up in pieces and served in instalments. When he spoke to her he realised she was carrying a heavy burden. As he probed further he discovered one of the weights was unforgiveness. She wouldn’t forgive her father. And she worried too far into the future. People do that but that’s not a wise thing to do. There’s an indeterminacy about tomorrow. There are too many factors at play. Your brain will short-circuit. That is not saying one shouldn’t plan. But you can’t plan so much you’re overwhelmed by fear of tomorrow. We must approach life in faith. No one can say with certainty what tomorrow will bring. Too many prognosticators have been shamed by tomorrow. Just believe for the best. If you worry too much about tomorrow fear will control your life. You will go into depression because you can’t fathom how to get to the tomorrow you desire from where you are. Each day has enough anxieties of its own. Don’t pile tomorrow’s portion on to today. When you pile too much pressure on the soul something will break. The soul is not a heavy machinery haulage system. Willpower has limits. It can’t accomplish everything. If you over-push it you will snap. When the will breaks we become hollow. Mrs. C was lost because life had been rough on her, very rough. And yet the same life was kind to her in other respects. That’s the paradox of life.
As for Mrs. D, she was angry. You can feel it in her words. She didn’t seem to care again. She was angry with her husband. She had taken enough from him.
One thing he noticed though in talking to the four women was how fragile the human heart is. Humans are fragile, some more fragile than others. To protect our fragility some of us build tough exoskeletons. We don’t want to be vulnerable, don’t want anyone taking advantage of us. The contradiction though is that the soul hungers for love. Love is the nourishment of the soul. But we can’t receive love without opening up. We can’t receive love without vulnerability. A closed human is tiring to the party seeking to give affection. There’s a reciprocity needed for affection. It requires the other party opening up.
Some seek to guard themselves against vulnerability by rationing out affection in teaspoonfuls. But to even get that teaspoonful the other party needs to give a drum-ful. This creates imbalance in a relationship, and soon one party begins to feel cheated. The love has to be drawn out of the other party. Such a person must necessarily be insincere and dishonest about her feelings. She can’t admit to need. But she’ll expect affection as an obligation from the other party. She thus becomes a goddess, and a very selfish one at that. And when she gives it’s all calculated. There’s always a motivation. She can’t be generous with affection. Invariably too much will be sucked out of the other party and he’ll give up. He can’t continue. It’s not worth it. Sometimes what drives such selfish behaviour is the false belief the man can’t go away, that he lacks options and alternatives. But for men in such situations leaving does not necessarily entail looking for another woman. No other woman is an option.
The point I’m trying to let you see is that life is going to happen. Therefore be prepared. One day you’re going to wake up on the other side of life happened. It would seem as if you bore through life and suddenly emerged in an unfamiliar place. There will be betrayals in life, there will be losses, there will be disappointments, there will be disloyalty, there will be unfaithfulness, there will be troubles… You have to come to terms with the fact life won’t always be pretty. When those things happen you must be philosophically prepared to accept life for what it is. That’s life! But don’t become a version of yourself. Don’t lose yourself. When you do, go find yourself.
You can’t approach life arrogantly either, so confident you’re above certain faults. Don’t force life to show you your depravity. It’s why we must not be condemnatory of others. Those people we condemn… We can easily find ourselves in their shoes. Be empathetic towards human condition. Life happens! Neither must we seek to pummel into the ground those that are down. Don’t crush a weak reed, don’t snuff a flickering candle. Don’t destroy those going through life’s difficulties with gossipy innuendos. The human heart is fragile. You may be responsible for someone’s suicide.
Be wise. People are not what they say they are to you, they are the condition of their heart towards you.
I hope you have learnt some lessons.
Your mentor, LA
© Leke Alder |
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Tags : Life, life's issues

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