4/21/2009

It shouldn't be this hard


Picture provided by Flickr


We walked into the restaurant with quite a grim tone about us. Venting and trying to work through a recent frustration the day brought us, eventually covering the table in an air of defeat once the food came. Silence.

One of my coworkers, who I highly respect (much as I do all the people I currently work with) broke the silence while staring down at his plate. "It shouldn't be this hard." Taken a bit by surprise, we all looked up and didn't have a chance to respond before he continued, "I mean, I take that attitude in my life in general, but have noticed it much more when it comes to work. It shouldn't be this hard."

It was an interesting moment for me, both because I realized how little I knew about him outside of the workplace, and also because it certainly boiled down my feelings on the situation (and many other situations, both in and out of work) so well. It's such an troublesome concept also: to understand that trials of challenge also provide the most fulfilling rewards, but also to accept the fact that the most difficult path is not always the best to follow. I know it's a mistake I've made myself plenty of times.

It's been an interesting few weeks, to say the least. Aside from trudging forward with work, my family has had a rough time in the last few months. Having just recently lost my Grandmother on my mother's side at the end of last year, the notion of our own mortality and how to spend one's time has been rich each time I speak with my family. How difficult then, to have another loss in the family: news that a very close family friend (family in every sense but blood), in India, a woman who had a huge part in raising my mother as a child, past away.

I got the news on a late-Sunday night drive home a few days ago after an otherwise flawless weekend of fun. My mother and father got the news of her passing while in the airport, planning to catch a flight to India to be with her while she wasn't well. Speaking with my mother about it, for the first time in as far as I can remember did I really hear the struggle in her voice with it. I knew it was there when my Grandmother passed, and I saw it again here, but she would never show it to us. Listening to her advice (as parents always give), the one line that stood out in her conclusion, "Don't do anyone wrong." A very simple statement, but combined with the behaviors in which I was raised, it spoke volumes. About how to treat others, to respect your fellow people, to openly love those you care about, and to simply not do others wrong. It's something I've strove for, but I am certainly far from perfect.

So what's the point?

Nothing really - just to think about, to try and appreciate the times that we have. I've spoken, quite literally in the past, about not taking things for granted. I suppose the only point that really comes out of this is to not take difficult situations or the good people we run across for granted. It's not easy, and gets harder as we compile more pieces into our lives, but its something that also becomes more necessary. After all, the time we have is limited - I want to be doing things that I'm proud of now, and will be proud of years from now.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

The idea "it shouldn't be this hard", and my constant pondering it, is what pretty much destroyed my childhood ideas of faith and changed the way I think about God/religion/etc. Basically, it doesn't matter if "the best rewards/knowledge come through strife" or whatever - if there was truly a benevolent, omnipotent being, it could snap fingers and give us those rewards/knowledge *without* the hardship and pain between. That's what *omnipotent* means.

This isn't to say I don't still have certain beliefs, but they're nothing like the simplistic views I had as a child - less defined, more prone to paradox.

But this is all here nor there - the point is that we *do* live in an imperfect world with limited resources, stupidity, misunderstanding, and strife, and we have to make the best of it, each in our own way.

I think what you said, about having to fight for what you need/want making it sweeter, but knowing when you're making it *too* hard and picking your battles, is a good thing to recognize. It's a balance we all strive to perfect...for ourselves, for our friends, for society...

That's what I think life is, in the end. Everyone's trying to make something perfect.

- Michael

Lee said...

Omnipotent defined by Webster is “having virtually unlimited authority or influence.” To have unlimited power, there is no need or want to make things simple or easy. Without tests we do not learn, without falling we don’t know how to push ourselves back up. Why would something take our ability to learn our limits and our strengths away from us?

And yet, I agree, one should choose the battles they want to fight, and making things difficult for ourselves for difficulties sake is not appropriate, but not all struggle is bad. If you think where you are in your life at the moment – handling what each of us have to handle, we could not do it if we hadn’t the experiences in our lives. The problems and consuming struggles of our childhood seemed to overwhelm our little minds – and yet we prevailed, and we learned to understand ourselves, and learn that we could temper the fire of life. Without those small victories over strife, we would not know how to take on more difficult ones. Each thing that we experience in our lives prepares us for times ahead. Wishing away the problems of today, might leave us unprepared for times ahead – something that we don’t know, b/c of our lack of omnipotence.

Having said all this – I recognize my personal inability to always take my own struggles in stride, as I believe we all have issues with. Not everything should ‘be this hard’ but sometimes it is us who make things more difficult, and having the ability to simplify the problem comes from our life experience. But I wholeheartedly believe that one day, in the future, we will be glad that we cried/sweated/struggled/cursed/fought our way through each day.

Just my two cents :)