Life’s Lessons

Last week at work, we were enjoying a quiet evening around the firehouse when the TV was purposely directed to show one of the Bachelor franchise spin-off shows. Yes, you read correctly: we watched some of the worst ‘reality’ television that the networks offer (I sat there in the name of crew cohesion, and if any other officer out there tells you that they haven’t done something like that, they are lying…at least that’s my story). As the show progressed through it’s nauseating drama, one phrase was uttered over and over as the boy-meets-girl-then-they-break-up-then-meet-again premise played out: “This is the hardest thing I have ever had to do in my life.” It was said by both the men and by the women, presumably somewhere between truth and TV.

We have all been around the bratty teenager that just doesn’t know any better, but more to the point, we have all been around the bratty 20/30-something that just doesn’t know any better. They are new at this life and new at a job, and lack the maturity that we look for in character judgement. They say things that show they don’t have any life experience, and the act in ways that make you want them to have a massive ego-humbling moment. They do a few weeks of tough work, get yelled at a little by a supervisor, and say something like: “This is the hardest thing I have ever had to do in my life.” And we all sit around and excuse a lot of their actions as a sort of innocent lack of life experience; just waiting for the day that they have one of these lessons and they will be more mature and more worldly for it.

As I think about my life today, I wonder about the need to learn these life lessons. They are never the good ones: jobs, promotions, relationships, life…..they are the bad ones: getting fired, getting passed over for promotion, being on the receiving end of a break-up, death. These lessons in life don’t seem to help your perspective, all they seem to do is rob your innocence – which in turn forces perspective shifts. I don’t know if there is any way around it, but I do know that I wish there was. I wish that the hardest thing that any of us ever had to face was a break-up or an unfair result at work.

We are around today sitting smack in the middle of (hopefully) one of the most emotionally difficult times in our lives. And while we continue to deal with and cope with loosing Liam, we find out that life’s lessons don’t stop inflicting their curriculum onto our friends and family. Just two days ago, we found out that someone close to us is now battling something that people our age shouldn’t have to battle. Part of what makes hearing someone start a sentence with “This is the hardest thing….” so annoying to hear, is that most of the people that say things like that haven’t truly experienced anything hard in their lives at all. This used to frustrate me to no end, and then I realized why: I’m jealous. I would love little more than to loose the lens at which life now presents itself…but I’m afraid we are too far down this road to turn back.

Yes, privilege needs to be met with humbleness, and opportunity needs to be tempered with reality; but I feel like there is a way to raise Ezra so that he can learn these things without ever having to experience a traditional life lesson again. You’ll hear people say “What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger.” (I’m as guilty as anyone else in using that phrase). But I think that I don’t care if we turn out to be better afterwards – I’ll take me beforehand, and not have to learn anything new again.

[PS: I want to clarify that I would not ever give up a second that I have spent with someone in order to feel a little less pain….only, I hope that there is a way that we can figure out to learn differently. I know that loss and pain won’t stop – it’s part of life’s cycle. It’s just that there should be a less damaging way to come to certain truths.]

Comments

  1. THAT piece was outstanding. Thanks for your great writing
    Billy

  2. A thought provoking piece, indeed. Part of me wants to comment that you had a really insightful look into something we let go in one ear and out the other without really acknowledging the absurdity of it. I suppose we are desensitized to a lot that we hear on tv. The other part of me wonders if you actually had this conversation with the rest of the crew. I am not judging what you watched or why you watched it, but curious whether you get to have these important dialogues together.

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