My mother once told me “… be grateful when life gives you a problem you can walk away from…”
She was imparting her own brand of wisdom to me at the time, but once again I was probably too young to truly appreciate all the meanings in her statement. I have had many times to reflect on this over the years and many examples to attach meaning to it as well.
When I was younger I took music lessons for several years until I was no longer enjoying the.. I struggled to keep going to those lessons until my mother finally put an end to it all and so ended my musical career. I remember feeling deeply relieved at the time.
Sometimes walking away does not cause life long harm and may actually be our way of knowing where our true interests lie and discovering our selves.
As I got older and more things start happening to me, I got more choices and decisions I had to make; And with each new choice came more consequences. Jobs came and went. Sometimes I had to leave roles when they no longer ‘grew’ me and I had to make the decision about whether to stay or go. Money and security are powerful motivators… But there were always other jobs in the world, so walking away when I did was a growing event in itself. A lesson in survival, resourcefulness and adaptability.
Moving homes, or moving locations were other bigger decisions in life for me and the first time I had to walk away from everything I knew and start again in an entirely new place and an entirely new city was both logistically and emotionally challenging, but even then I knew it would be possible to go back if I ever wanted to. Within a few months though I was making new contacts and starting a new life. Looking back it taught me a lot and helped grow me and develop a lot of skills and new abilities. Walking away from my hometown was hard but worth it for me.
However, sometimes we have some painful experiences where someone is walking away from us and we have to walk away from a relationship. Relationships coming to an end were so painful at the time and I doubt I have to explain to anyone reading this how much pain can be involved. Sometimes we might physically move on but our hearts can stay stuck for many, many years. Walking away from heartache is not easy at all. Sometimes I struggled walking away from heartache but sometimes we take things with us as ‘baggage’,
Walking away from friendships and other pivotal relationships are difficult hurdles too, and I have to say that after all these years I have developed a much greater resilience and radar for knowing which relationships/friendships are better to walk away from, even though it can feel like we may have to walk away with a heavy heart… Still… it IS a situation we CAN walk away from, and for that fact we must again be very grateful; especially if it was an unhappy and toxic situation or relationship. Once we leave it we can start the healing process.
But… then even MORE life kept happening…
I started having experiences where I lost people that I didn’t want to lose. Family members and loved ones. Tragic accidents. Old age. They all take people from us that we can’t control or stop from happening. I had to bury and say goodbye to people that mean a lot to me and I had my first taste of life handing me something I can’t walk away from. I had to face my mourning. I had to grieve. I had to deal with the permanent and lasting effects without the ability to turning back and changing something.
My mothers words started falling into place as I mourned family members, friends and even her. Cancer was not something that I could not walk away from and neither could she. We had to face the consequences of the pain and loss.
Several years ago life handed me the most challenging of life events to date and gave me terrible health challenges that I tried SO hard to walk away from. I worked tirelessly to try and cure, to figure out, to purge from my life and to rid myself of… but as hard as I tried, cried and denied… It didn’t change a thing. It was still there when I woke up each morning and closed my eyes each night… and has been there every day since.
My mothers words “… be thankful when life hands you a problem you can walk away from…” came to my mind as I sat in bed crying, scared and aching. HOW TRUE SHE WAS!! The advice that I may have overlooked or downplayed so many years ago was very, very real to me now.
Ironically, others could walk away from me, and they did, but I couldn’t walk away from these difficult and life changing events. They followed me everywhere I go; and they follow many millions of others all around the world.
For those of us living with incurable diseases and life long health challenges, we can’t simply walk away from the realities that life has bestowed upon us. We don’t have the luxury of choice anymore, no matter what the ‘positivity-can-cure-anything’ advocators may say. If all it took was a positive attitude there would be no one dying of diseases like cancer, heart attacks etc; ever. They could just ‘positive’ their way out of it and ‘walk away’ happily.
I have realized that there are specific and very real situations and events that we simply can’t walk away from – Forgive the pun. But there can be so much to learn in these situations that can be truly priceless. For example, for those of us in situations we can’t control or leave, we treasure the choices, situations and times when we can choose and move on.
For example, I have set a much higher bar on how I use my time and energy, and who gets my time and energies. If I find myself in positions that are a waste of my health, time and emotions, then I find it easier and easier to quickly walk away before it starts to take a too high a toll and offers very little in return. Sometimes I think I have even developed a early warning system for such times.
It amazes me now, as I look back on my earlier life, when I could have removed myself from some very ‘unhelpful’ situations, people and places with minimal effort and inconvenience, and yet I chose not to. I wasted so much of my time, efforts and energy which I can never have back. It seems so ironic now that it sometimes takes us several serious and uncontrollable events to make us appreciate the less serious and controllable ones.
Knowing WHEN and HOW to walk away are life lessons that take a lifetime to learn and I am still learning. Finding the strength, confidence and courage is a big part of that too.
Today when I find myself faced with these choices I try and examine closely my motives and intentions at these times. If I feel my choices are made with a level of integrity and a ‘good spirit’ then it doesn’t take me long to reach those choices and to make a peace with them. I can ‘walk away’ with strength and hope into the future.
In it’s simplest form, life can be broken down to a series of steps. Small and meaningful steps. Everyday I take another on the road that is still my life. If I do my best to make each step meaningful and useful, even now, I can still make small steps in a better direction. Walking away from my old life, and walking to a new and unpredictable one reminds me to be very grateful when life hands me problems that I CAN choose to walk away from and put behind me, and it also helps me to cherish those who choose to walk with me during these times that I can not choose or control. I can still walk this road with my head held high and that’s what I always hope to do.