How best to deal with this?

Though it hardly bears repeating, there are instances in life which are very upsetting. Moreso because for a moment at least they appear irreparable; and most certainly by any analysis the events leading up to the misfortune are irreversible whatever the consequence. Normally the consequence of any misfortune is readily apparent; that is, the misfortune isn’t merely a misunderstanding (which is a matter entirely of another less damaging category).  Misfortune varies from being what is called a problem to what is more dramatically characterized as a setback or a stroke of bad luck, perhaps even a disaster, tragedy or sorrow, or at worst a calamity.

Confronted with an ordeal of this nature, the equally obvious sequel is, “How best to deal with this?” I believe it is an instinctive reaction to struggle whatever the ultimate remedy may be.

There have been numerous accolades, panegyrics or eulogies written about or compliments paid to those who have either bravely or cleverly addressed a misfortune. While it is true that a misfortune of whatever nature is, for the person having to endure it, a signal and inescapable preoccupation, it is nonetheless important to filter the strength of the absorption by distinguishing it from other more commanding peril.  For example, last evening while driving to the library to participate in a travelogue presentation, the car suddenly jolted and bounced from what in retrospect I presume was an open manhole on Spring St.  At the library parking lot we verified (as had been reported instantly on the automobile dashboard) that the left rear tyre was flat.  We decided it were best to drive to a local gas station to pump air into the tyre.  Once at the gas station, in a well-lighted area, we discovered the left rear tyre had been mutilated by the jolt.  We drove home in this reduced condition.

I will spare you, dear Reader, the sequel of events thereafter; that is, calling OnStar Roadside Assistance, calling the car dealership after hours, calling the police and municipality to advise of a possible open manhole on Spring St, calling the insurer after hours about the replacement cost of the wheel and possibly the rim, and subsequently (next morning) dealing with all the above, the towing company (the owner of which coincidentally was the son of a former municipal councillor) and speaking with a beneficent local resident who kindly offered to drive me to the dealership tomorrow when the car was repaired. The reason I spare you that frivolous account is that in spite of the disturbance it cost me, I have to confess that, when compared to that of many others whom I know, it is nothing. And this brings me to my point, “How best to deal with this?”

Funny enough perhaps, following the eruption of these personal events mentioned regarding my flat tyre, aside from a general state of annoyance, I spent a good deal of time ruminating instead upon the manner in which others who have suffered a material misfortune have done so. Naturally the evidence or intelligence which one has demonstrably or vicariously of the suffering of others is always from a distant and often emotionally aloof perspective. This alone attributes to the assessment of the dilemma an enormous abstraction which overall is entirely removed from the ground level detail of the other person’s peril and possible grief. I venture to say that without exception it is impossible fully to appreciate the hardship endured my another in the moment of such misfortune or subsequently upon the evolution of its consequences. Nonetheless my enquiry is not without its merit. The examination may not be superfluous. The issue which remains notwithstanding the degree of separation or the characterization of the misfortune is the vital question, “How best to deal with this?”

May I begin by asserting that quite unwittingly upon the heels of my particular dilemma I was overwhelmed by a sense of shame when I commensurately contemplated the genuine misfortune which others whom I know have suffered.  Some have endured the unimaginable harm and consequence of a negligent driver; others the totally unpredicated assault of brain surgery; others the silent but precipitous death of a loved one; others the random misfortune of illness from birth; others the on-going consequence of disease; others the experience of war, and on and on it goes. As I remarked from the beginning, “the events leading up to the misfortune are irreversible whatever the consequence”. I repeat this axiomatic statement because it crystallizes the platform from which and only from which further improving conduct may begin. If one were to contradict that statement, the effort is hugely different, translating the arena of combat to one of complete myth.

If on the other hand one accepts that the initial fault is only seemingly irreparable, one is then afforded the narrow window through which to pass to a more illuminated posture out of the darkness of gloom. While I am not a qualified authority to assess the method by which to cross the River Stix, I am nontheless convinced of the necessity to do so.

In the Iliad the river Styx forms a boundary of Hades, the abode of the dead, in the Underworld. It was said that if a mortal touched the waters of the River Styx, they would become invulnerable.

In the result the decision boils down to a consideration of, “How best to deal with this?”  The immediate upshot of such consideration is the adoption of a model of repair rather than one of despair.  Admittedly the translation from despair to repair is seldom immediate; but even accepting it only as a possibility of performance lightens the weight of the complication immeasurably. It is the first step of advancement to acknowledge there is no turning back even if only logically.

Speaking from what I have adventitiously observed to be my indisputable luck, the greater expansion of these matters is the sometimes enviable and miraculous way that others have confronted, analyzed and adapted to their own formidable misfortune. My further experience is that no amount of shared regret is either possible or – more importantly – expected; however, I have parenthetically observed that empathy is not without its profit to those who have suffered.

empathy (origin): early 20th century: from Greek empatheia (from em- in + pathos feeling) translating German Einfühlung

The multitude of ways in which individuals address their personal misfortune often constitutes the defining terms by which their character is assessed. In some instances the evolution is an improvement of the original; in others, a mere reassertion of the original. In those cases where the prerogative is not addressed, the evolution may both hamper and destroy the creature. The latter in my opinion is a dreadfully unfavourable result because the option of doing otherwise is so forcefully enhancing even if one remains egregiously estranged from one’s initial status. I can think of no greater compliment than having done one’s best

Note Bene: Photograph from Country Life