Monday, April 14, 2014

You Never Learn To Appreciate Good Without Pain

"Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure... than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat", Theodore Roosevelt

The pain of any loss, no matter what form that loss takes, is difficult for us to handle. Especially if we have never experienced loss before. The teenage girl or boy suffering over the loss of their first significant other is a prime example of this phenomenon. They suffer because they do not understand what loss is and that in time we get over it. Or at least we learn to handle it.

I never understood loss until my father passed away at the young age of 49. It was devastating to me and my entire family. It changed the course of all our lives and took years for us to learn to live without him. To this day, some 44 years later, I still ask myself “What would Dad do in this situation?”.

I truly believe that the good in our lives is much more appreciated when we have felt the pain of loss of failure. Once I knew what loss felt like I was able to appreciate little things; little victories.

We tend to find things to replace our losses. When I lost my father, who was my rudder, I found a new rudder in God’s prophet Buddha. Through meditation and thought I was able to develop the skills to handle my losses, and there have been many, without going through excessive pain. Little things gave me pleasure and joy.

Squirrels playing in the trees during the early mornings, gave me as much joy as wining awards. The feel of butterflies on my skin during my morning meditations in the butterfly garden was an amazing sensation. These are little things that I could turn to for comfort during the bad times. They, and many others, allow me to start my day off on a good path.

None of that would be possible had I not learned what loss feels like.

We have fallen into a mode of protecting our children from learning the feeling of losing things. We have instituted games where the score is not tallied or where everyone gets a trophy just for showing up. Then we let our well protected progeny out into the world ill prepared to handle rejection or failure. They get to college where they are not under mom and dad’s protection and can not handle the failure that is inevitable. Everyone fails at some point. Whether in relationships, class grades or our jobs not every thing is a cake walk.

I was one of those protected children and I understand how my parents coddling left me without the tools to handle my failures. It took the military to teach me those lessons. They were hard to learn but learn them I did.

You can not prepare your children for success unless you prepare them for failure. Let them fail. Let them lose the game. Then put your arm around them, hug them, console them and toss them a life saver candy. They will be better for it.

Otherwise you will arrive for a visit, when they are living alone in their twenties, and discover them in the fetal position unable to function because life just served them a lemon.


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