There were a lot of riots in the Canadian prison system in the late sixties and early seventies and I was in the thick of them. I had been a soldier for seven years and then a correctional officer. Tension filled the air, death threats came often, and I was always ready for a fight. Constantly, I knew who had my back.
That was my life back then – tension, distrust, aggression . . . and BOOZE.
From my earliest memories, challenge after challenge came my way. In retrospect, I am thankful for them and the life lessons that came with each one. It is easy to wallow in self-pity (I had a go at that as well), but that path leads nowhere fast. Taking the long view of life helps you get through troubling times.
Unless you are really stuck and refuse to let go of crises, they will pass. They always do. So many of the roadblocks of life that seem insurmountable drift away and become distant memories. Remembering that helps us to deal with new ones. What seems so extremely important at the moment means very little if anything in a few hours, weeks, months, or years.
Taking the long view puts life into perspective.
I often get enthusiastic hugs and greetings from people whose names I don’t remember and am not even sure where I know them from. It doesn’t really matter. What does matter is that I have touched their lives in a positive manner and they are acknowledging that in some way I have made their life a little better. That, to me, is fantastic. During my dark and lonely years, I never went out of my way to do anything for anyone unless they were closely associated with me.
Whatever problem you face, try to look past it. The lessons of life are always there and if you refuse to accept them, they will keep returning masked in different ways until you finally recognize them.
For instance, the distrust and aggressive manner I used to believe was just part of who I was, was all part of the charade of trying to be a tough guy. Why did I want to be perceived as a tough guy? So people could no longer hurt me. Did it work? No, but I kept doing it because it was all I knew.
It was the same with my drinking. Alcohol is a depressant and is known to relieve tension. Did it work? To a point, but then it also impaired my reasoning abilities. With my logical mind not working properly, I continued to medicate myself in this fashion as it was all that I knew.
One of the great challenges of life is letting go of the concept that you already have the answers. As I was to find, It is never too late to start your life over again, to follow a different path with a new understanding.
Another great challenge is to accept that the thinking that created your problems keeps you caught up in repeating thoughts and actions that have not worked in the past and are not likely to change. The decisions we make in life are emotional ones which we then justify with our reasoning. We need to step back and take the long view of the situation to be able to rationally focus on solutions.
“This life is yours. Take the power to choose what you want to do and do it well. Take the power to love what you want in life and love it honestly. Take the power to walk in the forest and be a part of nature. Take the power to control your own life. No one else can do it for you. Take the power to make your life happy.” – Susan Polis Schutz