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This Too Will Pass

Here's an old Peter Gabriel song for people in the middle of hard times.

On Thursday afternoon, two days before my brother-in-law’s wedding, my stomach decided to stop functioning properly. I will spare you the gory details, but let’s just say that the idea of food was not particularly appealing for a while. When in that state, even the thought of my favorite foods was nauseating. Of course, I knew from past experience that everything would soon be back to normal. So sure enough, by Saturday, I was able to eat, drink, be merry, and dance as only a white boy can.

Today, it is over one hundred degrees outside. In the valleys and deserts of southern California, this is standard weather. Near the coast, however, extremes of weather are pretty rare, so it does not take much to get us Orange County people to start bitching about the heat. After a few days of this, it can be hard to envision a future in which I will be crazy enough to put on a jacket, wear long pants, or turn on a heater. Of course, in parts of the country where they have actual winters, it can probably be difficult at times to imagine ever being warm again. Even in Southern California, where winter is a slightly cooler version of spring, there are times where I long for a warm, sunny day. When we are in the middle of something, it’s hard to imagine that things could ever be different. This is in spite of the fact that we all know from past experience that life goes in cycles, and no matter how bad things may seem, the only guarantee for the future is change.

Right now, our country is in an extended economic winter. Fortunately, I have been spared (so far) from many of the negative effects of the current recession. Many others, of course, have not been so lucky. And while history may provide little immediate comfort, the fact is that economic cycles have been a reality of life for centuries. This is why you should never get too excited during the good times or depressed during the bad. It will always turn around, one way or the other. Unfortunately, it does not feel that way when you are still at the bottom. Now I could say that I know how struggling people feel, but that would be a lie. Neither I nor anyone else can figure out how someone is feeling at a given moment. Every situation is unique, and no one can (nor should) be talked out of his or her current emotional state. You literally have to be there, and reason in itself is not enough to get you out. But so long as the emotional problem is not physiological, reason can stop the emotions from taking over completely. Thinking back to times when you ate normally, were nice and warm (or cool), and had a (seemingly) secure job can also be helpful. Since life goes in cycles, there is no reason to believe that the bad times will last forever.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Paul,

    Your post made me think about how I would quantify my own cycles. I didn't get far. I'd want to quantify a moment in time, but I'm having trouble because problems aren't necessarily additive. For example, today I suffer from intestinal problems, amplitude maybe 2.5 out of 10, 10 being near death. However, my current relatively mild physical problems overshadow the emotional ones (amp. 7) I felt all week. A little discomfort goes a long way. Also, I'm not feeling well enough to try to factor in my economic status. If I try to reflect when I'm feeling better I suspect I'll exaggerate somewhere.

    Anyway, glad you're feeling better white boy; sorry I missed the post-dyspeptic dance. Looking forward to my own...


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