Wouldn’t it be grand if there was a handbook for life? Along with Dick and Jane, it would be required reading. Just as Pete shows Sally how to hang upside down on a hammock, we would know exactly how to do life.
We might know just what to say–and when–to snarky people; we’d be able to act in socially appropriate ways when confronted with unforeseen events; we would parent flawlessly; we would handle medical emergencies with knowledge, poise, and flare; we would, indeed, be fully prepared for every single situation thrown our way.
Now, I know what you are thinking. There ARE handbooks for life, and you would be correct. A simple Google search offers many. Some come with free shipping.
I stand corrected. Or, do I?
Let’s imagine that scenario, the one where there is a how-to book with specific, no fail instructions for life.
- I wouldn’t have landed on my caboose when Cory pulled my chair back in Sunday school. Did I have a bruised ego and hiney? You bet, I was standing in the front row.
- I would have done the right thing when grade school buddies encouraged me to pick a lock with a piece of plastic. The plastic broke, the lock was jammed, and I had to write a letter of apology and, front and center, read it to the entire class.
- I would have had better judgment in matters of the heart and not allowed a certain relationship to sizzle long after the flame had died.
- I would have “read the writing on the wall” and quit a certain job; I spoke up–I stood up for myself and refused to be a doormat–and told the truth; it infuriated the boss who let me go.
- I would have spoken up in many other situations had I known it was the best thing I could do.
- I would have known how to better evaluate friendships–I would have paid attention to the signs–such that I would know, without a doubt, who and who are not real friends.
- The HUGE life lesson I learned the hard way–that NOTHING others do or say is ever about you–would have been learned a lot sooner.
I learned and grew from every single situation above…because I wasn’t prepared.
When we think of having a how-to book, let’s face it, how many of us would read or consult it when most needed? Can you remember the Dick and Jane stories, right now? Are they memorized? No. Life happens too fast and too hard, and we’d never be able to recall or consult in a given moment.
We aren’t supposed to know ahead of time how to do everything perfectly. I’m guessing most would agree that we were meant to suffer and experience hardships, to learn, and to grow from our experiences. We were also meant to experience joy, love, and the beauty life also offers. We were meant to experience it all.
We don’t grow from reading about how to do life; we grow from experiencing life, when it makes us feel and think. What I choose to do with my growth experiences is my path, my journey, and so, when I heard the Prolia ad this morning, the one that said “Life is full of make or break moments,” it emphasized that there can be no life handbook. We are on our own.
Sure, there are books about living our best life; see the one above, for example, offering 52 tips for happiness and productivity. Yet, I haven’t come across a book about how to prepare for brain cancer. There isn’t one, and there is no handbook for life.
Knowing that we cannot always be prepared for life and realizing that we are all in this same boat is liberating. The saying, “Relax! No one knows what they are doing,” brings smiles for its truth. What does that leave? It means doing the best we can.
Caring for my husband with brain cancer may be the hardest thing I’ll ever do. I also know that I can and I will.
Life’s hurts and pains are when transformation occurs. They require us to leave behind our comfort zone. It is the very place our minds and hearts are stretched. We begin to think differently, we realize things we hadn’t thought of before, and we are now aware of aspects of life we hadn’t known before. Certain truths emerge, others fade. Appreciation takes a front seat. If not before, now is when love settles into the heart.
Unasked for, yes, but pain brings growth.
Pain is where the light enters.