Saturday, January 17, 2009

Sunshine or Shit

I went to college for a year. It was a mistake to even go, to be honest. My dream, in high school, was to backpack across England, Scotland and Ireland, and to be a novelist. Instead, I flew west to Texas where I enrolled at Abilene Christian University.

My thinking back then was that the safe way trumps the dream way. The practical outpaces the outlandish in almost every race.

Meaning, standing at the crossroads I saw to my right a career as a teacher, with a stable salary and benefits and a house and car, etc. To my left, I saw the romance of being free to travel and write, but without a salary or benefits or any sense of how I would survive.

We live with our choices, good and bad. We just learn more from the bad. And boy have I made some doozies.

But I told myself over the past few years I would not live with regret. I had been, you know? I had been stockpiling my mistakes and keeping them in a safe place so that, when something bad happened, I could chalk it up to karma coming back to haunt me for my past errors.

It works like this: you make a decision that ends up hurting people you love. You see the error and you repent. Your intention was never to hurt, but you did and there it is, a blemish on you and your character and you feel legitimately sorry.

So, time passes. Then shit begins to happen. To you not by you. And you can't help thinking "Well, that's what you get for ..." and then fill in the blank with whatever you did that you regret.

That was me. That was me in spades. Hammering myself into the ground for making mistakes. Living with regret and pulling them out of a deck of cards. So that your hand is never a winner. Let me be plain: YOU stack the deck, then deal yourself a shitty hand. Is it any wonder, then, that you never win?

That was then. This is now.

I am, as some of you have been following, on the worst losing streak of my life. I won't enumerate them all here. Let's say for the sake of brevity that for one whole year it's been bad luck upon bad luck.

And to some I know, and maybe even to you that read this, my life is shit. My life is a black hole.

But nothing could be further from the truth.

My life is filled with richness and fulfillment beyond imagining. It is a life no longer dictated to me by shame and guilt and regret.

I have changed my perspective by acknowledging that shit happens, but it's just shit. It is not exacted upon me by karma and is not a direct result of anything I have done. And it certainly does not define me.

There's shit and there's sunshine. Both fall upon us all in equal amounts, we don't have a choice there.

I have found, though, that where you do have a choice is in which one you choose to bask.

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