by Kenneth Justice
By Kenneth Justice
~ “Dude, she used to be so friendly, always smiling…and now look at her; she’s miserable and everyone knows it” he said.
At coffee recently I was sitting with a friend of mine and a mid-40ish woman came in, she’s been a regular at the coffee shop for nearly a decade and is well known by all the customers and employees. When she first started hanging out at the coffee shop my friend’s description of her was spot on, “I remember how happy she always made me feel when she would stop by my table and chat for a few minutes; she was so full of life and energy. Yet now, all of the employees and customers talk about her behind her back because they see how sad, depressed and miserable she has become” he said
Although I’ve talked with the woman occasionally over the years, it wouldn’t be fair for me to say what has gone on in her life……..the simple fact-of-the-matter is that life didn’t turn out the way she had anticipated.
I’m sure the example of this woman is something many of us have experienced, whether in our own lives or in the lives of our friends or relatives; we start out in life with so much confidence and joy in what we are going to do with our life…..but then things simply don’t turn out the way we had hoped.
In many ways, that is the story of my little Website. I had begun graduating with a succession of college degrees in psychology and counseling and then woke up one day to realize that what I had been pursuing for so long……..was something I really didn’t want any part of; and for a moment I felt my entire life spin around in circles.
And then I started writing………..
Unfortunately, for many people there is no rainbow on the other side of the hill,
—-) Some people who want to have children find out that they physically cannot do so
—-) Some people who want to work in a particular field find out that they are simply not equipped with the right personality or abilities
—) Some people suffer debilitating physical injuries, disease, or on-going pain that prevents them from doing half of what they hoped to do with their life
In a Hollywood film; tragedies often lead to great joy,
—) In “Ghost” the tragic death of Demi Moore’s husband ends up allowing him to protect her and bring justice to the conspirators
—) In “Regarding Henry” the tragic gunshot wound Harrison Ford receives ends up transforming him from a cold and heartless businessman into a loving husband and father
—) In “Meet Joe Black” the impending tragic death of Anthony Hopkins allows him to reconnect with his two daughters and son-in-law as well as leaving his company legacy in the right hands
Unfortunately, as much as Hollywood reinforces our thinking with the idea that behind every tragedy lurks a great joy……life simply isn’t a movie. Sometimes……we may not get what we want; and the true measure of a woman or man becomes not simply what we’ve done with our life but who we are as a person.
So you didn’t end up becoming the million-dollar CEO of a Forbes 500 company; so what! So you didn’t attain that big house in the suburbs with the white picket fence and the dog named rover; so what! So you didn’t meet the woman or man ‘of your dreams’; so what! Shouldn’t we be more concerned with who we are as a person?
–) Are you a liar, a thief, a slanderer, or a crook? I hope not!
–) Are you a good friend, joyous in the face of adversity, peaceful in the face of disaster, and loving in the face of misery?
What kind of person are you? What kind of person are you becoming?
Someone wrote to me recently and made the observation that, “Kenneth, you spend too much time emphasizing the influence of Hollywood and the Media in Western Culture”, and while I appreciate their view….I wholeheartedly disagree.
Hollywood and the media are tremendous forces of influence that permeate so many different facets of Western Society. Even religious institutions have been impacted by Hollywood as so many various religions and churches have exchanged thousand year old liturgies for hip-new media driven services with digital televisions, dramas, and pyrotechnics. Not that I’m condemning churches who have contemporary services…….I’m merely pointing out how much influence our media driven culture has had upon such institutions.
For those of us in our twenties, thirties and forties…..we are at a place in life where we realize that we aren’t getting any younger and how we deal with that reality can have a direct affect upon who we are as person.
For those of us who are in our sixties and seventies, we realize that we are closer to the end than the beginning; and how we face that reality will determine the level of joy or sadness we express each day.
Perhaps I’m merely an optimist, but I prefer to count it all joy. What point is there in wallowing in misery? What does it serve us to lament the fact that life isn’t turning out the way we hoped? Is it a sad thought; sure. But so what…..we must move on and embrace life as it comes at us and move forward with courage just as Churchill said, “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”
Thankfully, I have coffee to keep me company along the way,
P.S. if you haven’t heard I’m currently on a national and worldwide tour of 100 coffee houses this year. Check out my website for dates and locations.
Categories: Culture & Society