By Courtney Pierce
The late-great David Bowie had the best advice for weathering tough times: Turn and face the strain. I’ve sung that line from Changes a hundred—maybe even a thousand—times in my fifty-nine years. Like many other baby boomers, I’ve lost a job or two, lost family members, and lost a husband (not by death, but a loss nonetheless). Any one of those derailments of life is particularly tough on the psyche.
But as is the way with Mother Nature, traumas are balanced with great joys. I’ve excelled in a career or two, won the hearts of two parents and two sisters, and gained an amazing husband and a stepdaughter from the ashes of devastation.
I owe it all to checklists. Don’t laugh. I’m completely serious.
I make lists about everything: complicated things, mundane things, and lists of lists I should make. Emotions are difficult for me to process, so when they’re part of a list, I can keep those tears and fears at arm’s length. We writers banish these big things to the page, not on our sleeve.
Rationalize, monetize, organize. Salute!
But then I think about the stupid things that many people deem to be traumas, like losing keys or trying to squeeze into those favorite jeans that don't fit anymore. Sometimes there’s no trauma at all, only an endurance test of the daily assaults of life. How much time do I spend deleting spam or interrupt a game of Scrabble to check my work email? I need to make sure someone else’s trauma doesn’t become mine. I’m never prepared for the Wi-fi router going out or my laptop inching like a slug from Internet slow-downs. And what about when the Bluetooth on the Bose has ceased to pair with the music library on my phone?
What the heck? Stop the presses! Is this fake trauma like fake news?
But nobody dies from these things. No one’s kids are maimed. Let’s put the challenges in prospective in our instant-gratification, now-means-now world. All anyone really needs to re-calibrate is to lose electricity for a week or two.
The absence of a 60-cycle hum of appliances makes me take notice. Ahhhh… After a day or two, I get used to the lack of rush from the heater or air conditioner. The still atmosphere makes my skin soft and supple. No ambient light from neglecting to turn off the switches ceases my huff and puff about the electric bill. No phone, either, without cable or satellite. We learned our haste from a pattern of waste.
I say a silent “thank you” when the power goes out. My urge to reconnect with my neighbors is powerful, and I reach out to friends for a long overdue lunch to become grounded again. If you’ve been through a hurricane, tornado, flood, or any natural disaster, then you know what I mean. The pull to walk away from technology is overwhelming after a couple of days without it. Then I dread that power coming on again. The respite is over. Back to normal life.
But what about emotional disasters? Relationship-changing disasters are quick to slice and slow to heal, űber-sore like an infected paper cut. I won’t lie, they carry a sting that’s hard to let go. Long after the clean-up of carnage is done, the invisible arrow still protrudes from the chest. Try as I might, I can’t yank it out on my own. Only those close to me, with a commitment of mutual love, know how to twist and inch out that spear.
My two sisters are quite colorful, Siblings can be wonderful at alleviating relationship stress.
We subscribe to the “What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger” rule for weathering the traumas of life. It's up there with the 7-second rule for food items dropped on the floor and headed to the mouth. Here's our recipe:
Shut off the T.V. . . .
Shut off the radio . . .
Close the browser . . .
Pour a big glass of wine and make a bowl of popcorn . . .
Then take stock.
|Photo: Loma Smith|
Check out all of Courtney's books at:
courtney-pierce.com and windtreepress.com. Both print and E-books are available through most major online retailers, including Amazon.com
New York Times best-selling author Karen Karbo says, "Courtney Pierce spins a madcap tale of family grudges, sisterly love, unexpected romance, mysterious mobsters and dog love. Reading Indigo Lake is like drinking champagne with a chaser of Mountain Dew. Pure Delight."