This I Believe

Susan - Glendale, Arizona
Entered on May 9, 2007
Age Group: 30 - 50
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“This I Believe”

Things That Matter

In the course of an afternoon, my life and those of my family members had been turned upside down by my daughter’s unexpected illness. I had a revelation one night, upon driving home from visiting her in the hospital. I was struck by a lightening bolt of realization about what’s important in this life and why we’re actually here.

For so many years of my existence, I thought the things that mattered most were just that: things. I thought the material goods, the societal imposed expectations were the items of value: the house, the car, the marriage, the 2.5 children, financial success, and all things external. But really, these are just makeup on the face of life that is washed off at the end of the day.

I realized that what is “real” is how one behaves toward all situations that are handed to them – what one learns, how one grows, who one helps. The fairy tale life of the family, where everyone lives “happily ever after” is just that – a fairy tale.

I’ve learned that what really matters is how a person reacts in the most horrendous of times, when the sky darkens and the clouds open up to shoot bullets of mud – the earth rumbles, cracks and the tornado plunders through. When a person or family is left standing there, in the end, their previous world blown to smithereens…tattered bodies holding on to each other for support, what is important? The iridescent, electric-white life-force that is still illuminating each muck-coated frame is, for one thing. As one walks amidst the bombed out landscape, contemplating the next move, this becomes a turning point. The choices made are highly significant. Alter one’s life, having learned from one’s mistakes? Help others who are going through similar circumstances? Deepen one’s sense of spirituality, as one realizes the connectedness of all of us, bumbling along the path, doing the best we can? Or become bitter and angry, further poisoning the world?

I believe that life unfolds to teach us lessons, sometimes as subtly as a whisper, other times with the deafening boom of a grenade. Every time we solve a problem, cope with a calamity, overcome an obstacle with grace, we get to move up a step on the staircase of evolvement. While we have no control over the challenges we are given, the way we handle them holds the key to the essence of our lives.