The economy continues to mercilessly bear down on central Ohio. The unemployment rate breaks all recent records. Families have lost their homes due to the mortgage crisis. The stock market free falls as retirees watch their nest eggs, their investments, dwindle. And the government bails out banks with greater and greater frequency.
The overall picture looks bleak. We’ve gone from indulging in excess to frantically conserving our resources. One doctor recently said that our physical reactions are quite similar to the stress experienced after the terrorist attack of Sept. 11. We feel angry and frustrated and overwhelmed. Every day, we wonder what to do and what will happen next.
I wonder. What do we do now that this thing has happened? How can we best prepare ourselves for whatever lurks around the next corner? Perhaps the best answer for that is to bring forth what is within each of us.
Does that sound trite? It’s not my intention to condescend. I believe that every person has a wealth of riches within. Our strength, our ability to endure, surpasses that which we can understand. We can come out of this better, stronger than before. We can embrace the lessons of today in order to build a more desirable tomorrow.
In fact, we all get to choose. That’s right. We all get to choose. Do those words anger you? Do you wonder what kind of choice you possibly have in the midst of this chaos? Well, we all get to choose our interpretation of this economic mess. We get to choose what the experience means in our individual lives.
Of course, some people will only see doom and gloom. Victimized by Wall Street or unscrupulous lenders, they will choose to see themselves as perpetual victims rather than survivors. Twenty years from now, they will bitterly talk about how the universe conspired against them, taking them down a path of ruination.
There is a better way. For out of tragedy can come great triumph. Yes, these are scary times but we don’t have to choose fear. We can move forward in faith, trusting that good wills out in all circumstance. We can use the ruin of what was once our lives to transform ourselves.
You see, I don’t believe that anything is ever exclusively good or bad. Rather, all events are opportunities to learn and grow. We can embrace change for change is indeed the norm in this world. Or not. But we all get to choose.
Does that all sound a bit like Pollyanna? Do you wish you could rip the rose-colored glasses off my pudgy face? Breathe—in and out. Feel the rhythm of your heart beat in your chest. Nothing can destroy you.
You will survive. So will I. Experience the blessings around you. They’re there. Maybe time off work will give you more time with your children or ultimately lead you to more fulfilling work. Maybe a smaller house will relieve your financial burden. Perhaps you experienced the kindness of a stranger.
Look around! You are surrounded by good, by opportunity—big and small. Shake the sleep from your eyes. This world is magnificent, and you are magnificent, too.
Cynthia Kazalia is a writer for the Columbus Messenger.