To inspire you
Typically, I don’t write autobiographic stuff. I’m not keeping a therapeutic diary to get over things here. I also can’t stand the self-importance or self-centeredness that seems inevitable with such ego documents. But, here’s an exception. I won’t recount my blunders; just some victories to uplift us.
Seventy years ago, my twin brother died in the womb when we were drugged. Not that he didn’t fight with all he got but I decided to fight even harder to survive. It should get better. And it did. I survived. I even took therapy to learn not to keep fighting the fight I won already. And, from then, I’m willing to accept hard reality but not doom or hopelessness.
My first 20 years on earth, I was indescribably lonely. I developed an understanding of isolation and how important it is to break it. Now, I can connect in seconds to babies (including angry ones), small kids (including with Down syndrome), teenagers (including bored ones), grownups (including depressed ones), and everyone else, to let them feel that no matter what, at this moment someone sees, hears, and feels for them.
At 10, I understood that those who blame sternness on G^d really mean: we as humans haven’t been able to behave better. I wasn’t religious yet.
At 11, I understood that I can’t carry all the heaviness that my surroundings put on me. That’s not life. I decided to be a happy camper, no matter what, and to try to make others burst into laughter too. I built an enormous arsenal of jokes, some later to take from the shelves, and dust off, and some to improvise on. Someone once complained: You’re always so happy. I answered: Well, if you know something better …
At 17, my father recited a Dutch saying: Horses that deserve the oats won’t get it. He knew too well, as someone who grew up poor and barely survived the Holocaust, how mean and unjust the world and life can be. He said it with bitterness, though, and that made me decide there and then two things. I will place a compliment as soon as I see it’s deserved. And I don’t blame my father for being resentful, but I refuse to be bitter. And when I went through great injustices, this decision helped me a lot.
At 26, I was supposed to fly with a plane type that till the day before was grounded everywhere for 14 days because of some unknown malfunction that made two of them crash. And, this particular plane had aborted its flight the evening before with a burning engine. After 28 hours (our flight had a 4-hour delay), it was ready to try again. I told the scared crew: At least this plane had an extra inspection. One stewardess answered: But I hope they tightened all the screws. I told myself: two possibilities: We will fly safely. Then why ruin the flight and be in terror? Or—a small chance—we crash. In that case, I want the last hours of my life to be nice. We didn’t crash, I had three meals because the plane was mostly empty and those aboard couldn’t eat anyway. I learned always to make the best of things.
Discomfort can just hurt or, over time, may inspire one to jive with it.