Those Damn Curveballs

I’m not even a baseball aficionado and even I know what curveballs are.  They’re the frustrating pitches that start straight and then curve into a ridiculous arc making the likelihood of a hit far lower than if the pitcher had thrown straight.  

My friends have been getting thrown curveballs lately and it’s messing with their batting average and more importantly their spirits.  I have read about people struggling with the darker moments from their past, spoken with those who are feeling concern about emotional u-turns that keep occurring despite smarter GPS systems in their heads, significant losses and little gains that don’t really offset the enormity of sorrow, relapses, physical challenges, regrets…And I can’t fix any of it, because I wasn’t given that extraordinary power (though I fancy Tinkerbell as one of my favorite characters – I just would like her wand though).

I had no intention of writing about this today – I was going to write something about management.  Once again, my heart over-ruled my head – it seems to do that a lot.  Be forewarned, I don’t have any magical answers and I doubt my words can change hurts that run so deep.  I can only be here.  We can only be here for those we love and care about.  I do know that it is important to honor pain as much as one should embrace happiness.  They are flip sides of the same coin and for reasons I can’t explain, sometimes the coin lands on the wrong side.  We lose people we adore and have to recalibrate our balance so that we can still hold them in our heart while railing that we can’t hold them in our arms.  Our bodies refuse to comply with our directions to always stay strong.  Hearts get broken and the energy just isn’t there to find the paste and glue.  Or it’s the wrong kind of Elmer’s and doesn’t work on major organs.  So what to do, how to cope, how to head back to the dug-out after striking out despite your best efforts (that’s it for the analogy, I promise).

Some days the best we can do is breathe.  Just breathe.  Get through the day and notice that there is nothing required of us other than that.  Listen to the wind as it weaves it’s way around the tops of the trees.  Cry.  Cry some more.  Eat a little bit if you can.  And every time you begin to judge what you’re doing, anytime a ‘should’ pops into your brain – invite it to leave.  Now isn’t the time.  There are no ‘shoulds’.  There is just this moment, and this is the moment that you have to get through – no more – until the next moment.  Letting our thoughts go is a hard exercise, wondering is a human condition – and often elicits wonderful thoughts.  No wondering today – for the answers aren’t going to offer solace.  Life is.  That is all for today.

And if you have the energy, as weird as it may sound – do something good for another person.  Nothing huge, a ‘thank you’ will do.  Perhaps “can I help you with that?” as an older person struggles with his/her groceries.  Let someone who appears to be in a hurry take your place in line.  Buy a sandwich for a homeless person.  In the throes of despair the one thing that hints of the promise of a better tomorrow is generating kindness.  It takes us out of ourselves, even briefly.  And the effect of gratitude and appreciation reinforces the goodness of who you are (regardless of what you may be thinking of yourself at the moment).

“When you carry out acts of kindness you get a wonderful feeling inside.  it is as though something inside your body responds and says, yes, this is how I ought to feel” — Harold Kushner

It may seem counterintuitive – we want people to be kind to us when we’re going through our own hell.  Yet this is the only way I have found to make  a positive impact on my own spirit when it’s overwhelmed with struggle.  In college we would call it ‘doing a solid’ – a solid, small act of goodness that brings us back to the reality that what you’re going through does not define you.  It is depleting you perhaps, but doesn’t come close to touching all the goodness that you are.  And in that moment of giving, I guarantee you that you will feel slightly lighter.  For a little while, you will be lighter.  Breathing, kindness and the smallest of smiles.  That is what I wish you for today.  I will save the big, over-the-top exuberant, life affirming wishes for another day – for I know that day too will come.

And in stereo-typical Jewish mother language, there’s something to be said for a little chicken soup too.  Try and have a sip – it’ll help..