Tuesday, May 3, 2011

When Murphy's Law and Optimism Collide

As the title of my blog suggests, I did have a house that burned down and had to be re-built. These are the things that happen to other people right? According to my friends, I am their "other" person. I am the one most likely to trip when being introduced to royalty; the one most likely to give myself a black-eye while starting the lawnmower; the one most likely to run into a glass door thinking that it is open. Thankfully, none of these things have happened...yet! Give me time.

Murphy’s Law simply states: “Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.” I know this law well. This law appears to govern my life. A bit of self-fulfilling prophecy? Not really. The fact is I am very much an optimist. I see the positive side of most situations and maintain a fairly bright disposition. I was once dubbed by a colleague as “chronically happy” as if I had a debilitating abnormal personality trait.

In my life of stumbles, delays, failures, and sheer shocks, I have continually attempted to focus on being thankful for whatever comes my way. The bible – our instruction manual for life – tells us to be thankful in all circumstances. This is not always the easiest task.

Often, being thankful is not an obstacle at all. You find a $5 bill on the ground. Thanks, God! An unexpected discount appears on your phone bill. Thank you, God! You have a great hair day. I love you, God! Other times being thankful is a supreme challenge. Your home is completely destroyed by a fire. Um…hmmm…thank you?

Hindsight is 20/20. After the fact, I find it easy to see why things played out the way they did. I believe everything happens for a reason far greater than any plan I have for myself. When all is said and done, I can look back and think, "Oh! Of course! That led to that, which led to that, which put me here." DUH! But, in the mix of things it is easy to lose sight of anything positive. When we are overcome with grief, doubt, hurt, or pain, being thankful is the last emotion we want to tap into too.

When the stakes are high and the challenges are insurmountable it is easier to scream; easier to lash out; easier to crumble and weep; easier to cast blame. It is harder to say, "Thank you." It is hard to look at the ceiling which now lays on the bed you occupied moments prior and say, "Thank you. Thank you for not letting me be under that rubble."

It is easier to shout, "WHY ME?" rather than quietly be thankful that the brown shag carpet met its demise.

It is easier to curse the smoke detector for not going off until the firemen arrived rather than thank my husband for waking me from a slumber laced with carbon monoxide.

It is harder to be thankful because we simply don't think of it. When the chips are down and things are bleak it is in our nature to plot out worst case scenarios.

While standing in our kitchen and peering up at the hazy blue sky where a ceiling should have been it took all my muster to think, "The cabinets are still hanging. Our wedding dishes survived!"

It was in fact on that foggy day that I decided I would not bemoan my situation. I consciously became thankful of every little and every enormous gift.

My husband and our animals all survived without a scratch. We kept our wits about ourselves. We were calm and rationale. The firemen saved our photos and financial records. They found my great-grandmother's pearls. The dress I was sure I would wear again was destroyed so I would never have to have that yard-sale-or-not battle again. My cell phone was in my hand for an unexplainable reason. It provided us with a means to call 911, our family, our insurance agent. We found a pile of clothes near out bedroom window that the firemen had tossed out. It allowed us to put on something other than pajamas and our neighbors two sizes too small sneakers. We saw the goodwill of friends and strangers. As far as house fires go, I would say ours was pretty much OK.

It was a day that tested my own ability to offer thanksgiving. Everyone needs a thankful heart and a spirit of gratitude. We can all exist. That is easy. I believe it is far better to live and experience. Embrace your obstacles. Skew them; tilt them; twist them. Soon the light will hit them at a different angle and you will see your point of thankfulness.


Mila said...

I understand exactly what you mean about everything happening for a reason and being thankful for what didn't happen rather than what did happen. Of course it took me a long time to come to that reasoning. I broke my back, landed in a wheelchair, got out of the wheelchair but not until I had eaten my way to 300 pounds, started losing weight, got a personal trainer who was qualified for post rehabilitative training, married him and so on... I was lucky that I didn't die in my accident and if I had not had that accident I would never have met my husband and leading the life I currently have.

Nice blog...

Jen Sano said...

Mila, I love your comment! It is so true that everything happens for a reason though sometimes it takes a while to see the reason! I love your story!

julia simpson urrutia said...

This is such a good commentary, Jennifer, and it is lovely that you decided to put it out there. I know that even in my most difficult times, simply going out and about and seeing someone truly courageous in the face of whatever he or she faces makes me reconsider my own circumstances.