What to do when the crap has hit the fan and is dumping on you.
Life is full of experiences that can really get you depressed and crazy. For example, a new HBO movie is starting and you can't find your clicker.
You've pulled the sheets off the bed, gone through the cushions, under the bed. You're blaming the dog, the maids, your wife. I wonder how many homicides (or suicides) will result from this.
A friend of mine bought a lawn mower from Sears, shut it off, turned it over to clean the blade, and miraculously, it started up and in no more than a nanosecond, lopped off his left hand.
A woman drove off the road into a ravine in California a week and a half ago, and after ten days, the wreckage was discovered and her four-year-old daughter was trapped in the car, living on dried noodles and Gatorade and sleeping in the wreckage next to her dead mother. Oy, what a bummer.
That old T-shirt at Woodstock that said "Life's a bitch, then you die" is the absolute truth. How do you overcome this? Some use religion, some go to pieces, some even commit suicide. The fact of the matter is that one of the secrets in life that one must learn quickly is that there will always be something mean and nasty happening. That is the natural way of life. BUT... if you ignore the barbs and arrows and force yourself to believe, deep down, that this too shall pass, then it will - absolutely. In time, whatever it was that you got all upset about will be meaningless. You wonder why you let it upset your equanimity.
I had a recent experience that almost drove me insane. The other day, I started out the day knowing that I needed to refuel my car. However, when I got to my local gas station the prices were sky high, so I decided to wait. There's a station that was close to my building and usually cheaper.
That afternoon, I had an appointment with my physical therapist but when I got in the car, I realized that I had forgotten to get any gas and still needed some - BADLY. It was a grim, dreary, rainy day. I certainly didn't want to break down on the side of the road and have to hitchhike in the rain. Then, I remembered that there was an Amoco station on my side of the road on the way to my health club.
Well, I pulled in to the Amoco and, much to my dismay, there was not a gas pump in sight. Only the ubiquitous attendant at the register. I asked the attendant where the gas pumps were and he said that they were all out getting repaired and asked me if I would like some air for my tires. No, I didn't want any air (not to be vulgar - just to give you an indication of my mood).
So then I got back in the car and started driving down the road and the engine was starting to buck a little bit. The temperature outside was dropping quickly and I was wearing one of my Capetown Diamond T-shirts and was getting terrified that shortly, I would be but a handicapped schmuck on the side of the road with a Rolls Royce "Corniche", hitchhiking cause he's out of gas.
But wait, in the future I saw salvation. The scallop shell (which always represents expensive gasoline) was owned by some greedy Taliban, but this was no time to be picky. I was ready to pay five dollars per gallon.
In I pulled and I leapt out of the car. Oh, was it hard getting my gas cap off. It was kind of frozen on. But, I got it off. Now, when I say my tank was empty... It took thirty-eight dollars to fill it.
Now, it was a really cold and miserable day and I was afraid to leave the pump on automatic shutoff for fear that it would've jumped out of the tank and banged up the car, possibly costing me a $1,000 of body work. So I stood there and bravely filled it up manually - simply freezing. All of a sudden, I had to use the restroom real bad. But, I was determined to fill that tank. I finished filling it up and rushed up to the store and burst in the door asking, "Where's the men's room?" The attendant told me that "Oh, I'm sorry... the repair man has not brought back the door handle." So I asked, "How about the lady's room?"
Now, the real troubled started. I was in the car, driving out of the parking lot and I heard some guy yelling and banging on my trunk. I stopped and opened the window and heard him calling me a number of bad names.
I asked him what was wrong and he accused me of stealing from his father. Unaware of what he was talking about, I asked him what the hell he was talking about and he said that I didn't pay for the gas. I informed him that I had put the credit card in the slot and filled the tank so it was charged on the credit card. He told me that sometimes, that machine wouldn't work. So, I asked him how that was my fault and how I was supposed to know. My logic told me that I had gotten the gas, he must have gotten the money. I even went in to use the Ladies' Room. Well he told me I was trying to cheat him anyways.
This person wouldn't respond to any logic that was ever invented. I had to warn him that I was going to jump out of the car and beat the living crap out of him with my cane if he didn't stop hollering at me. So, with that, he went back in to commiserate with his father while I sat in the car with my motor running. My mechanic had just finished tuning "Ole' Blue Bell" and she was idling faster than normal. At one point, the young attendant came out again and started castigating me again.
I said to him, "Listen, I know you're upset, but there's still no excuse for your stupidity." Well, that drove him crazy. I watched him fly into some kind of a frenzy and, in the confusion, I took my foot off the brake and my car sped ahead to broadside a brand new Chevrolet Silverado.
Oh boy. What a smack.
Well the day didn't end there. Some poor Mexican woman came running out of the convenience store half-crazed. She ran over to me shouting, "What did you do?"
"I don't know, I have insurance. We'll fix it" and she asked how I planned to pay for it.
I said, "My insurance company will pay for it."
She said, "My husband will kill me," so I told her to get a restraining order. It upset her even more to notice that my car had not a dent in her. This was music to my ears. Amazingly enough, "Ole' Blue Bell" suffered nary a scratch.
I got out and tried to console this poor distressed woman and meanwhile the attendant called the police again (they had never showed up from the first call). I told the woman to call my wife who speaks Spanish and provided with all of my insurance information then I left realizing that there was nothing I could do there, except maybe get myself into more trouble somehow. Ten minutes into my routine at the health club, the PA system announced that there was a phone call for me and my poor wife was babbling to me about a hit and run but i told her not to worry about it and she told me to tell her the whole story but I explained that there wasn't enough time to tell her on the phone if I was to get back to the gas station.
My wife hadn't paid me so much attention in years.
So I went way back to the police pit and the police asked me to open my trunk. I thought that was a little strange and asked him what my trunk had to do with anything. He said it was sort of customary in this kind of thing so I told him that no it wasn't and he'd have to get a warrant.
He got indignant and asked me why he would need a warrant, thinking I had something hidden in my trunk. So I told him that every time a cop asks somebody to do something that's unconstitutional, if the other party agrees, that kind of erodes our personal freedom. So I told him that I couldn't let him look into the trunk unless he brought the watch commander down and the watch commander could give me a good and legal reason to let him, because I could think of none.
Then the cop proceeded to ask why I hadn't paid for the gas and I asked the cop how he knew whether or not I paid for it. I told him that it was a lie. I told him that now he was getting into my freedom of speech. "Well, I'm from New York and that's how I talk. More than that I'm old, and cold, and disabled, and I want to get back in my car and go home. Do you have any other suggestions? I've had a bad night here and all for no good reason. I don't owe anybody any money, I'm all paid up. Ask this guy's father. He'll tell you that I don't owe nothing. I've already paid for the gas that he said wasn't registered. I have the receipt right here. I'm getting in my car, and I'm going home."
He was a young cop and had probably never met anyone the likes of me. He didn't know what to say. So, I got in the car and went home and then had to tell my wife this story all over again. As the final kicker, the poor lady whose car I rammed called my wife and my wife had told her to see her insurance company and they would bill mine. But... she advised my wife that the officer had written the accident report improperly claiming that she, not me, had hit her car.
Okay, that was a bad day, but no big thing. A better day is coming and that's what we have to keep remembering. I'm not 100% certain that I'm the one that had the bad day -- maybe it was the cop and the woman who owned the car or the attendant who had the bad day. But it certainly wasn't one of my better days. Just to advise you about how inexorable life can be, shortly after I wrote my first draft of this dissertation, my son advised me that his dog, the love of his life, has cancer. It don't end, but you can't let it get you down.
I did have a worse day once that I thought couldn't get any worse. The evening before, I was following some girl to a bar in my car to have a cocktail with her at twilight and I was passing over a railroad crossing without gates and got hit by a train. The car was totaled, bent in half, and all the ribs on my left side were broken. Just as I thought things were as bad as they could get, the hospital sent to burly guys in my room who put me in a wheelchair and rolled me out to a bus stop. I was advised that I had not spent enough time at my job for my health insurance to pay anything. No dough, you gotta go. Those were record bad days.
As long as you know, things pass and get better. Even if they don't, you might as well believe it anyways. It will comfort you while you're waiting. Remember that what you think during the day, while you're awake, is what you turn into. Like they say, everybody deserves the face that they have at fifty, so put on a happy face. If you want to live on this planet, in this life, then you've gotta have heart. Those without need not apply. It doesn't matter what happens, it all either goes away or gets a hell of a lot better. Trust me, you've got nothing to lose.
If you're really down in the dumps, you can call me and I'll try and talk you out of it. The whole sum and essence is this: You must believe that everything passes and this is not easy to do, but what do you have to lose. You're in this life to stay or you can take the alternative. And you've got to believe deep in your heart that situations will change. Try it. It works. For a while, Christopher Reeve was proof of that. He didn't want to make everybody around him bitter and unhappy. He believed everything will be better. It takes some strength to do this. If you're a weak shit and you can't, then maybe you don't deserve life. Good Luck.