Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Second Chances

Second chances can be an obscure commodity. When given a second chance, even if it is shrouded in uncertainty and fear, I can choose to dwell on my unfortunate circumstance and wonder “why me?”, or I can make the most of this opportunity to do something great.

I’ve heard it a million times, “It could always be worse”. In fact, it’s something I hear on a daily basis. I’m not even sure what that really means. Of course it could be worse. In reality, no matter what is going on in your life, someone will always have it worse. However, it doesn’t minimize the impact my current situation has on my life. The fact that somebody has it worse than me shouldn’t invalidate my feelings. I can, however, gain some perspective.

Life is hard…some days more than others. As humans, we are constantly in search of things that we can control. We desire control. Chaos ensues without control. But here’s the bad news…we can’t control it all, or even much of it. So, why not embrace the things we can control?

The best I can do is value the good times…and survive the bad. I can safely say that my life has been fairly cyclical. It pours…a lot (lately). Then it stops. And it gets better. I am constantly humbled by life. I hear the tale of the couple who both lost their jobs. I hear stories of sick children. I hear of people losing it all every day. It hurts my heart. But, I gain perspective. When I hear these stories, I can’t even imagine a life with so many struggles, yet none of these stories minimize the current impact of my struggles on my life.

Today, I blurted out that damn cliché. It was just filler for an awkward pause in a seemingly normal conversation. I didn’t even really mean it. Instead of the usual response of, “that’s true”, today I was called on it. I was told, “It doesn’t have to be worse for you”.

I wasn’t expecting that…

It resonated with me because it was true. It doesn’t have to be worse…it doesn’t even have to be whatever this is. I can do something…anything. I may not have control over my employment opportunities, but I have control over my life and what I choose to do with it. I have a second chance to truly embrace something more important than my job. I can be great for my son.

Before being laid off the first time, I tried to maximize my time with son. This usually occurred during the hour or so before his bedtime and on weekends. It was never enough. When I lost my job, I was given the amazing opportunity to stay at home with my son – to have a truly great impact on his life. And I think that I did. Viewing life through the eyes of a 1-year old is a gift - one that I got to live daily. However, my unemployment was always in the back of my head as a constant reminder of my shortcomings. It consumed me at times. When I finally went back to work, it was too late to live in the moment with him. I missed what I had.

This is what most people don’t understand. When I get a job again, I will be congratulated on my resolve and told my persistence paid off. But, by going back to work, I will lose something more. The sad part is, this time I already know it. It’s a silent, often misunderstood struggle that I don’t think I will ever balance.

So, that’s where I’m at. My employment may be uncertain and I may be filled with “professional” self-doubt. But today, I choose not to dwell on my misery. This time around I can appreciate the moments as they happen. I know it won’t last forever, but until that day, I get to enjoy things like this:

It may not seem like much, but doing arts and crafts with my son as his mind absorbs everything, is priceless to me…and his mom. My time with my son is unmatched.

I will continue to hear woeful stories of loss and I will continue to sympathize. Someone will always have it worse. One day, perhaps I can help…or maybe I can’t. Perhaps, the least I can offer is some solace in my words.

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