“We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.
For the most part I have lived a very charmed life except for one dark period that I still battle with today. Now, what I define as dark is relative, relative to all the other darkness that surrounds us. But, I wouldn’t trade my setback with the 36 families that lost children in the Oakland, California fire. My “dark period” as I describe it, compared to the loss these families are experiencing and dealing with is incomparable, honestly I can’t even imagine.
So, I am still dealing with disappointment. I had another one yesterday. But I am here. My wife still loves and supports me, and my children are safe, healthy and happy. Yes, I am disappointed, but just how disappointed can I be? What right do I have to be disappointed when there is so much hurt, and loss in this world?
I listened yesterday morning to an interview with the manager of the Oakland warehouse, Derick Ion Almena. Mr. Almena told the reporter that he would “rather get on the floor and be trampled by the parents. I’d rather let them tear at my flesh…..”. The anguish in this man’s voice was heartbreaking. I am not in a position to assign blame or judge this man, but again, I wouldn’t trade my “dark period” with the guilt he is dealing with today.
Over the course of the last ten years I have learned a lot about disappointment. Disappointment in myself and disappointment with other people. But I have balanced this knowledge with something else, something far greater than self-pity; perspective. Sadly, whenever I encounter a disappointment, a challenge, or a road block all I have to do is turn on the news or read the newspaper and find all the perspective I need to move forward. Everyday, somewhere, someone is dealing with something far more challenging than what I am dealing with. It is easily recognizable provided my eyes and my heart are open and I am not wallowing in self-pity.
Too often we are frozen by our disappointments. We let the uncontrollable control us. We let the imagined threaten us like it is a reality. We build-up both external and internal walls of doubt, fear, and anxiety. Sadly, those walls keep our emotions in and the compassion and love of others out. We somehow find comfort inside those walls. We create a space and a place that we think is safe and secure while it slowly tears us to shreds. And the longer we stay, the harder it is to leave.
We all have disappointments, setbacks, failures, and obstacles that we have to deal with in our life. Some are greater than others but some aren’t until we amplify their existence and position above everything else that is right and good.
Want some perspective? Seventy-five years ago today 2,403 Americans were killed in Pearl Harbor. Mothers and fathers lost a child. Brothers and sisters lost a sibling. Wives lost husbands, children lost Daddies. Imagine what that news was like. Imagine a mother hearing that her son, her baby, won’t be coming home for this or any future Christmases. How does your life look now?
“There’s always failure. And there’s always disappointment. And there’s always loss. But the secret is learning from the loss, and realizing that none of those holes are vacuums.” – Michael J. Fox