Do what it takes

There is a sphere of experience no one wants to be the winner; namely, suffering the worst calamity. No matter to whom you speak it isn’t long before a tale of misery insinuates the conversation, whether a family death, serious medical issue, financial hardship, child-rearing problem, matrimonial battle, traffic accident, employment downturn, travel disaster, whatever! Eventually none of us escapes the perils of living and it is with the predictability of a dice roll that it happens to any one of us. Of course we’re never prepared for the eventuality, it always “comes as a shock” and “we never imagined it could happen to us”. Yet it does. Life is as certain as the outcome of the Brexit vote but the chance of misfortune just a close.

When however the devastating result is plain the human spirit instinctively kicks into gear to begin the process of accommodation (a formality which I employ to describe the sometimes humiliating or resentful act of coping in one form or another). I regret to say that in the throes of a dilemma I am inclined to overlook the inherent value of such desirable conduct. It is so much more seductive to flounder in one’s adversity and perhaps revile one’s fate. But a mere glance at the elevated composure of others in similar situations tends to promote the preferred posture and to put into high relief the irrefutable dignity of it. It doesn’t require much acuity to discern the difference between a mature response to conflict and a raging reaction to it though I as soon acknowledge the difficulty of doing so. We easily tend to characterize quelling of distemper as a lost opportunity or entitlement. Yet by comparison how much more uplifting it is to persuade our instinctive alerts to view the trial as proof of our backbone.

There is besides a certain logic to coping with difficulty in the face of a demanding situation. In short, what’s done is done, there is nothing we can do to alter the past. It is a blunt and unvarnished resolution but nonetheless irresistible, even annoyingly so. To linger upon a reversal of past events is utterly preposterous and can only lead to the absurdity that it is; it is circular thinking which is calculated to drive us crazy. It is equally axiomatic that many of our perceived losses are material only and therefore replaceable.  In other instances the damage is more to our self-esteem than anything tangible and it may therefore only require a readjustment of our thinking. If all that fails, then the ultimate binary decision – “To be or not to be” – is available as a last resort.  In any event it is useless to imagine that the past will ever change.

If therefore we accept that we’re not going back, then we clarify our focus on going ahead.  It is here that we strangely have the right set of circumstances to write the text of our history. In determining what we should do it may assist to contemplate how we would look upon the conduct of others in a similar situation if the rôles were reversed. If ever there were support for the proposition that every vote counts, this is it! Setting an example of good behaviour is a moment we mustn’t squander (as painful as it may be to do so). And you can be assured that how you rise to the occasion will not go unnoticed.

Once we’re over the hump of resentment, a consideration of the hallmarks of sociable behaviour ensues. We’ve come a long way from the 19th century pattern of the British “stiff upper lip” which was essentially the talent of speaking and behaving in a way that didn’t reflect what you really thought or wanted to do. The object in my opinion is instead to cultivate an absorption of truth without gagging while at the same time projecting a philosophy which embraces the paradoxes of life. An unequivocal life is at risk of becoming a stagnant life. While it no doubt strains our resources to adopt the high road and to resist the attraction of vendetta, the least effort is exponentially rewarding. In time the poison of bad behaviour will lose its sting and be forgotten; but the distinction of thoughtful choice will persist.  In the end it is best to do what it takes.