I’ve dealt with a lot of little tragedies.
The first one was when my mother got sick with Multiple Sclerosis. At age 12 she began turning into an increasingly unrecognizable woman who couldn’t take care of me or herself. As I tried to grow into a mature adult, my family’s inability to deal with the crisis set me back a long way
Other difficulties in my life have been less severe but still had an impact. Living with a lordal curve in my back made me extremely self-conscious and continues to plague my self-image. I also deal with anxiety that makes certain situations and relationships difficult for me.
Everyone has things like this in their life - alcoholism, abuse, loss. Obviously it’s good to overcome one’s difficulties. But having the difficulties to begin with actually provides a surprising benefit.
What I’ve discovered is that the little tragedies are related. Each one sheds light on all the others. Each time I learn to resolve or overcome something that causes me trouble, that learning fits into a greater picture of success.
It’s like each problem is a jigsaw puzzle piece that needs to be put in its place. What is surprising is the picture that emerges when I fit them together. The pieces of my tragedies can form into the picture of my redemption.
In simpler language, the tragedies are not really the problem. My reaction to them is, and my reaction to the various challenges, as different as they are, tends to be the same! The better I understand that reaction, the more choices I have in reacting.
It’s hard for me to process in real time. Stress brings out reflexive, emotional, often unhelpful reactions to problems that I can only gauge when the heat of the moment is passed. But with the benefit of a lifetime of resolving my little tragedies, I can begin to understand myself well enough that I have a kind of mastery before the heat of the moment can lead me astray.
I discovered in practicing the piano that each mistake was not isolated, but related to a larger pattern of my approach to learning the music. It took many hours of watching myself make the same mistakes many times in different contexts to begin to have the understanding of how to avoid them before they happened. As always, what I learned in music I was able to use everywhere in my life.
I would encourage you to take heart in your tragedies, if they are bearable. There may be some redemption in them for you. Is that helpful?
Adam Cole is an author, educator and performer who blogs weekly on creativity and artistry. To view more of Adam's work, please visit www.mymusicfriend.net