Thursday, July 28, 2011

Living a HAPPIER Life..Learning through Contrast

                                     Ohhhhh LIFE! So much going on around us that we don't like...that we don't want ..WHY?? Why do we have to see terrible things happening!? Why do we have to end up with TERRIBLE Bosses and TERRIBLE co-workers? Why do we get caught up in terrible fights with our friends or our exes? All kinds of things in everyday life come along that we really don't like. Why is life so HARD, right? Why do all this injustices and inequities have to happen?! 

Well, truly, these things MUST happen! Yup! 

They must...And the why is fairly easy--though not easy to hear...we need to learn.. Yup...we NEED to learn and the best way to learn more precisely what we DO want is to learn VERY precisely what it is that we DON'T want. See? 

Say I LOVE motorcycles and I'm riding along and I hit some gravel and the bike goes down. I end up with a screwed up shoulder and can't even shower without help. Well, I know I don't like being helpless. I know I don't like going to the emergency room. BUT, I still like motorcycles MORE than all of I get on one again. The next time it's not me that injured, it's someone else and I witness it. It's bloody and it's violent. I don't like that, either. It's horrific. 

But, I still like riding a bike more. So I keep riding. And I hear what nurses call motorcycles...they call 'em 'donor-cycles'...and I don't like that. I really don't want to be an organ donor because I'm in a bad accident. I mean, I know it could happen anywhere and in any number of ways...but I particularly hate road rash...and I begin combining, in my mind- Road rash and donor-cycle and the contrast with not having road rash and not riding what nurses call a donor-cycle ends in my deciding that I DON'T want my skin to be grated by any asphalt anywhere and I DON'T want to be lying there proving the nursing community right. No more motorcycles. 

I REALLY KNOW what I don't want. Seeing a horrific motorcycle accident on a normal city street, that didn't involve any alcohol or high speeds..that showed me what I really don't want. Just one example...

Another? Okay...another accident happens. This time it's in a truck. A friend is the passenger in a car with someone else. They're going about 40mph down a downtown residential street. They're not wearing seat belts. No big deal. They're not going far. Right? 

Wrong. They come to the street they think is where they're supposed to turn...they slow to make the turn and a police car streams from across the street right past them...they t-bone the squad car. Their truck, upon impact, flips over the top of the police car and lands upside down on the other side. My friend, the passenger, not strapped down, flies through the windshield and lands on the ground before the truck lands there. His legs are under the cab when it hits the ground. 

I visit him in the hospital. It's probably one of the hardest things I've ever done. A nurse stops me at the door to his room. He takes my arm and leads me away and gently asks if this is my first visit. I nod, concerned now. He says, "We don't like to let visitors in without first giving them some idea of what to expect when they go in."  

So, I nod and he tells me that I will not recognize my friend. He tells me that my friend is unconscious. He tells me that my friend is covered with tubes and has a particularly startling tube coming out of his chest. He has internal bleeding and bruising. He tells me that there are lots of beeps and whirring sounds and a lot that I should be ready for. He recommends I sit for a minute and prepare myself. 

So that's what I do. I almost leave, but I get to the elevator and think, "What would he do if that was me on that bed?" and I turn around, go straight to his door and let myself in. And I stand at the door and soak it all in slowly. Tubes, wires, machines, harsh lights, whirring, something spinning, something that makes a popping sound...and in the midst of it, a black & blue face that I don't know and purple hands and toes visible. Every square inch of him is covered with bandages, wrappings or tubing. I take a deep stabilizing breath and walk over to his side. I can't take his hand as they are covered with needles and tubes and I wrap my fingers around his toes. They are the only part of him that is touchable. His toes. 

I remember hoping he could feel his toes still. 

This was why I ALWAYS wear a seat belt. I do NOT want to fly out of a car. He has learned the same lesson. He got glaring contrast in this one and he shares his contrast with others all the time. No one who knows him will ever not wear a seat belt again. 

Not all contrast is so painful or difficult. Sometimes it's simple, like while picking roses you learn you'd rather wear gloves next time...or spending a lot of money on gas when you buy a gas guzzler may teach you that next time you want a more economical vehicle or possibly you don't want a car at all. Maybe you learn from it that you'd rather live in a city that makes it very possible to live without a car at all! 

Contrast is our best teacher. Learning what we DO want by discovering what it is that we DON'T want. Without contrast..if everything was always JUST the way we like it, we'd practically be dead because a life without contrast would be more like would be like not being alive. 

Sometimes certain events occur and, depending on the effects of those events, sometimes we form laws based on those events...human civil liberty laws, protection laws...because those events show us, as a society, what we want and what we don't want. We write laws to prevent those kinds of events from occurring again and put penalties in place for those who seek involve themselves in such an event occurring again. Murder. Theft. Cyber-stalking. 

Through all of this, contrast teaches us. 

Moving to an oceanside community, we discover we don't like the salty smell. Buying a farm, we discover we don't like waking up at 4am to drive a plow. Buying a guitar we discover practicing is harder than we thought and it hurts our fingers. OR Buying a guitar and practicing we learn that we LOVE music and we would rather be playing drums. Contrast shows up everywhere and it ALWAYS helps us to clarify what we want and know truly what it is that we Don't want in our lives, as a society and as individuals. 

Contrast = Clarity = Focus Knowing better what we don't want helps us to focus better and learn precisely what it is that we do! 

Welcome contrast. You may as occurs whether you welcome it or not, so embracing it and understanding it is a great step to living a happier and more successful life! 

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