No Problem

At dance class today, people were talking about their problems. One person said it was important to be kind, that everyone had a secret problem they were dealing with.

At that particular moment, I was feeling calm, at peace with the world, and fairly cool. (The coolness would wore off quite quickly — the air conditioner in the studio is broken, and it got up to about 103° today.) So said, “I don’t have any problems.”

They came back at me with a stern, “Everyone has problems,” and one woman reminded me that I still don’t have my car. (It’s been at the auto body shop for three months.)

I kept my mouth shut as I so often do now. I get tired of people shooting me down when I talk, so I figure it’s best not to say anything, but the truth is, I don’t have problems. At least not at the moment. I might not have my car, but I have a place to live, a refrigerator full of groceries I purchased, and rides to and from the dance studio. Despite the heat, I have the ability to walk within reasonable distances if I need to get to the store. And I have my computer available to blog or check with online folks.

Next week could be a different matter, but maybe not. A problem is defined as “a matter or situation regarded as unwelcome or harmful and needing to be dealt with and overcome.” Synonyms are: difficulty, trouble, worry, complication, difficult situation; snag, hitch, drawback, stumbling block, obstacle, hurdle, hiccup, setback, catch; predicament, plight; misfortune, mishap, misadventure; dilemma, quandary.

The way I see it, my life right now is an adventure, and I welcome whatever comes my way. I might not particularly like some of the interpersonal situations I find myself in, but the situations are fleeting and provide me with lessons and challenges. (I tend to brood when people treat me with less than the consideration I feel I deserve, and brooding is such an unattractive response that I would like to overcome that tendency. But even that is not a problem. Just a character trait I don’t admire.)

I’m learning to live in the moment, and not many problems can be contained in any particular moment. Worry is for tomorrow, and tomorrow can take care of itself. As the saying goes, “tomorrow never comes.” Because when today’s tomorrow gets here, it will be tomorrow’s today.

I have no idea how long I can continue this attitude. When problems do show up on my doorstep (assuming I have a doorstep), I’ll deal with them then. For now, I am lucky. I have no problems.
Life is a great big canvas

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Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fireand Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

Being Nice

For many years, I was subject to depression and debilitating allergies that so enervated me, getting out of bed in the morning was about all I could handle. Then there were the years my life mate/soul mate was dying, where I hunkered down in my emotional foxhole, trying to protect myself from the pain with which life was bombarding us. During these times, whenever I’d go out among people, all I ever seemed to see were happy, healthy, and energetic folks, which made me feel as if I were alone in my misery.

It wasn’t until I signed up for Facebook and started making contact with all sorts of people that I discovered the truth rainbowin their status updates. Everyone is struggling with something — illness, disability, debility, depression, grief. Even if people aren’t struggling with such a difficulty themselves, they are taking care of someone with a problem. The strong, healthy people I saw were probably normally traumatized people on their good days.

I’m learning to be nice to everyone, even people with a bad attitude. Anger, rudeness, pettiness, are all signs of unhappiness and discontent, and chances are, the misery stems from actual problems, not just a desire to be mean. In a strange sort of way, how people treat me is not my problem. Their inconsideration is a reflection of them, not me. My only responsibility is in my own reaction, and — in an ideal world — I would always choose to be nice. Life of course, is not always ideal, and I sometimes I let my own problems dictate my behavior, especially when those problems entail a lack of sleep, such as the episodes with my afflicted brother.

One of my favorite scenes in a film is in the 1989 movie Roadhouse where Patrick Swayze is discussing his policy with the bouncers. “Be nice,” he says. He goes on to tell them that no matter what anyone does, be nice. And he ends, “I want you to be nice until it’s time to not be nice.” It’s a good policy for anyone, being nice.

Sure, we have problems, but everyone else does too. So let’s pretend this is an ideal world, and let us all be nice.

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Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Follow Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.