Everyone has their troubles, and it isn’t for any of us to judge how another might cope with those troubles. We can only do that with ourselves – and when given the opportunity, it seems we can fill volumes listing our troubles. A car that doesn’t run. Medical bills. A dirty house. Busted fence. Flat tire. An idiot boss who is stupider than dirt. Migraines. Allergies. Bank errors. Cat pooping in the corner. A furnace that needs repair. Loose shingles on the roof. No roof. Mortgage companies that are stupid and/or evil. The list can be, and often is, endless. And worse are those troubles that are just, which we brought on ourselves for whatever reason, that compound all the troubles that just seemed to happen.
The thing is, 99% of what we think our troubles are really aren’t. They aren’t troubles at all: they are the privileges of living. They are part of the deal. And the grief we often feel in addressing and dealing with them is caused by the anxiety we are feeling about addressing and dealing with them. We create our own grief about most of the things we think of as troubles.
Now, before several hundred of you start to argue with me, let me tell you why I’m saying this. We all have people in our lives who are dealing with illnesses – some severe, and life-threatening, others less so, but still a burden to deal with. One of those people is a cartoonist I’ve known my entire professional life, whose wife has been battling a life-threatening, gradually debilitating condition that requires constant care. To help, their daughter’s family recently moved in with them. And just a few days ago, my friend found that during a nap, his twenty-month-old grandson had stopped breathing. And his grandson could not be revived, and died.
It is a nearly unimaginable grief.
If all the troubles in my life were catalogued, and someone told my friend that he could have one more hour with his grandson as long as he were willing to take on the burden of all the troubles of my life, I believe he wouldn’t even ask what those troubles were. He would say yes, in an instant. I would, no question. Because no matter what else someone was dealing with, those would no longer be troubles to me – they would be blessings, which would allow me to experience that which is most important, and in truth, all we really have: Time, and the ability to share it with those we love.
Think about those you hold most dear, and try to grasp the pain of suddenly, irrevocably losing them. Then ask what kind of troubles you would be willing to bear to have one more hour with them, and how grateful you would be for that chance. The time spent worrying and stressing over a thousand troubles creates only sorrow and regret, because it isn’t necessary. Our happiness is far more about how we choose to respond to those so-called troubles than most of us realize. Life is hard. Life is not fair. Life is also incredibly, incredibly good. And measured against those things which really, truly matter, there are no such things as troubles, only blessings and the privileges they bring.