If we all would agree we can’t cope, we’d all be able to cope. It is the fallacy of thinking we are the only ones struggling that makes us want to throw in the towel on the struggle.
Physicist Richard Feyman, writing about his MIT days in his autobiography, recalled one of his brilliant friends fiddling around with an industrial tape measure. The guy would open it, then hit the retract button and have the tape snap back in. The other guys watching wanted to know just one thing – ‘how did you do that without getting your knuckles hurt?” After all, they knew that when they did the same fiddling with the industrial tape measure, inevitably when it would flip closed, it would snap against their knuckles and hurt like the bejeebers. “How’s it possible to play around without hurting knuckles?’ they asked their friend. He looked at them seriously and said, “figure it out,” then threw them the tape measure. All day long students at MIT fiddled with that tape measure, trying to figure out how to hit the retract button without bloodying their knuckles. By day’s end, many of them had black and blue knuckles with no progress made. They went back to the guy and said, ‘We give up. How did you keep snapping it closed without hurting your knuckles?’ The guy chuckled and asked, ‘And who said I didn’t hurt my knuckles?’
How do you live life effortlessly without pain and doubts? You don’t.
In my designation of yenta and know-it-all doling out free advice, I’ve heard all kinds of issues and problems. And I’ve heard many of the sufferers think only they struggle.
“You mean its normal to fight with your spouse?” Ah, yes, marriage is hard for everyone. My father reassures me that only the first fifty years are hard. Yes, most women cry their first year of marriage. Yes there will be disagreements about money, neatness, outgoing vs. stay-at-home time and even stupidities like toothpaste. It is normal.
“You mean the rags-to-spectacular-riches stories usually don’t happen and most people run around stretching those ropes that make ends meet? ” Yup. Most people struggle to get their bills paid, and some of those of the luxurious mansions and expensive tastes might just be struggling even more. They might be up to their nostrils in debts, student loans, mortgages, lines of credit and credit card debt. My father says, the rich just have bigger bills than you and me. They have to worry and hustle just like us, but for larger amounts.
You mean that children don’t enter this world docile, brilliant and ready for Harvard? They stick peas in their noses, put snot on your walls and throw tantrums in public. The vast majority. And that is normal. That neighbor gloating about her perfect child is lying. Children are perfectly children, messy, rowdy and deliciously obnoxious, for it is your job to help them take all that and use it to grow greater.
Life is a messy struggle. Adam L’Amal Yagata – you were put here on earth to struggle, to work out the challenges, to rise above the problems. No one has an easy street paved with diamonds in life. So, yes, your struggles are normal. Now enjoy them, for the struggle is what will give us reward in the long run, will give us the most pleasure once we’ve gotten past the obstacles.