Thursday, February 17, 2011

A Drink From The Tainted Chalice

Often, the most difficult thing to do is that which should seem to be the easiest. Your head may be trying to tell you to slow down and take a deep breath but your motor is racing at a million miles per second and is pushing you to move faster and to make up your mind quicker. Much like the drive home at the end of the work day - a drive on which you may have (out of frustration) weaved in and out of traffic on the interstate to expedite the process of reaching your destination - you exit your vehicle in the same number of pieces that you were comprised of when you entered it but your heart is pumping full-throttle. You admit perhaps to yourself that on this occasion you made it safely but may not be as fortunate the next time.

The instinct to go faster is fueled in part by a desire - whether known or unknown - to outrace your problems. Our hope is to leave our troubles nowhere other than behind us. Happiness is stress in the rear-view mirror.

And it is that instinct that can on occasion really screw things up for us entirely. We accelerate to breakneck speed when that is not in fact what the situation calls for us to do. Ironically, running faster and harder is quite often easier than slowing down and staying put. Perhaps that in and of itself should not be a surprise. A moving target is harder to hit.

On my desk at work I have a quote attributed to President Abraham Lincoln, "Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any one thing." Smart man, Mr. Lincoln. Apparently had a penchant for honesty too. You probably were aware of at least the latter. His advice is sound. Its sentiment is sincere. Yet it is silent in terms of what to do in the darkest of hours. The times that confront all of us during which we reasonably anticipate that the light at the tunnel's end is merely pointing the way to a 1,000 foot drop. Or worse yet that it is the front end of a multi-ton freight train bearing down upon us at breakneck speed. No words of wisdom contained in Mr. Lincoln's charge that advise us explicitly what we are to do in those circumstances.

And believe this - those circumstances will indeed come. If we are truly fortunate, then they will come upon us less than a handful of times during our lifetime. If we are more or less like everybody else, then those times will descend upon us like a suffocating fog too many times to count. And when they do - when they come - it will be incumbent upon us to take a deep breath, evaluate our options and proceed in what we believe shall be the best manner. It must be a decision born from poise, not panic.

Easier said than done. Particularly when we cannot tell our courage from our desperation.


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