By M. R. Anderson
Since time immemorial, people have been looking around for leaders to follow. We put people up on pedestals as model citizens and try to be as “perfect” as they are.
Today, we still look for those people among us mere mortals. You know, the ones who have no secrets, nothing to hide, no vices to overcome, no regrets, and nothing to be ashamed of. The rare specimen who can do no wrong and does not have a bad day or problems. At least, not anywhere near what you might be going through or have been through.
Like most people, I have looked around for someone like that at some point. I wanted to ask him or her to step forward and let everyone know of their existence, and be recognized as the living example for the world to follow. A template for the flawless human being. Someone who was not some mythical character from a story in the past or a character of the future, but a human being who lives and breathes now. The reality is, however, that such a person did not exist. Regardless of how well put together some people may seem, everyone has at least one thing they are struggling with at any given time, and also make big mistakes.
Many of us end up feeling let down and disappointed when the people we idolize mess up and show that they are, in fact, prone to lapses in good judgment.
So, how can you learn if the examples you look up to are basically the same?
The only way to learn is by living, and to live is to go through joy and pain, ups and downs, triumphs and setbacks, mistakes and corrections, births and deaths. Life is like a pendulum that swings back and forth. There will always be ebbs and flows. You can also look at life like a movie. In most good movies, the main character often goes through hell. Despite falling down sometimes, they never stop or quit. They eventually figure out a way to overcome the villain or obstacle and come out better in the end.
With that said, everyone alive has faced regrets, have endured great loss, felt deep sorrow, experienced sickness, and encountered other difficulties at different points in their lives. Even babies who are learning to walk, fall many times. The important thing is that they always get back up until they get it.
Life will always throw you curve balls, the key is to prepare mentally. One of my favorite authors once said:
“Thou didst fall yesterday! Didst sin grievously! Having realized this, leave it instantly and forever, and watch that thou sinnest not now. The while thou art bewailing the past, every gate of thy soul remains unguarded against the entrance of sin now. Thou shalt not rise by grieving over the irremediable past, but by remedying the present.”
This quote is from the book “The Heavenly Life,” written by James Allen, and is one of the quotes that I live by. What it is basically saying is that crying over spilled milk is not helpful in getting back the milk that was lost. It’s best to learn from what happened, so the next time we will be careful not to spill the milk again. In essence, that’s what learning is. Self-improvement is a continuous process, it never ends until you decide you don’t want to get better, or until you die.
Don’t be too hard on yourself
There have been so many times when I said and did things I shouldn’t have. In some cases, it would have been better to have just remained silent. Even though,it’s not possible for me to return to the past and take back anything I said or did. Looking back at those times, all I can say is that I was ignorant and stupid. But I learned from those experiences, even if they left me with what I now call life scars.
As humans, we can be quick to judge and look down on others who might have made mistakes. However, we become less judgmental when we realize that everyone is going through or has gone through challenging experiences. Our stories might be different but we all face similar struggles. The difference comes down to the choices we make in handling those challenges.
The movie of life
As I mentioned earlier, life is like a movie. We are the main characters in our own movies. My movie, so far, has consisted of much loss, such as losing a father, a daughter, my grandparents, a few friends, a couple of co-workers, a pet, and fellow soldiers. I have lost jobs, jewelry with which I had a sentimental attachment, games and competitions I competed in and trained for, and I have also lost fights. I even lost my mind once. I have failed a lot, including tests that I studied for, but I didn’t quit.
On the other hand, I have gained a lot, including new friends, a new grandson, a new pet, and new jewelry. I have also traveled to many new places, won fights, won games, aced exams, and gotten my mind back. As the movie of my life continues, I expect that there will be more sadness and happiness, pain and pleasure, ups and downs. It’s all a part of the script.
A little secret that has kept me going
If you really want to see the truth about life, watch shows about nature. Nature does not have time for feelings. Nature’s concern is about survival by continuing on with its species, instead of moping over what’s dead and gone. One of the things I have learned from nature is to keep going and not to give up despite what’s happening. Giving up means assured death.
“Pain is inevitable, but misery is optional. We cannot avoid pain, but we can avoid joy.”
I think, in order to make it in life, one has to understand that life is what it is. Don’t complain about the deck of cards life has given you. Instead, cherish the cards you were dealt and try to make the best game of it. Oh, yes, you can consider life as a game as well. But you have to be in it to win it.
To summarize, don’t live in the past, look forward and not in the rear view mirror. Understand that you are not alone, because everyone faces tough challenges, whether you know it or not.