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Jakarta post

by Jennie S. Bev

We grow into multiple directions externally and internally, which we have been enduring and will continue to endure through the changes of inner weather and turmoil. As we age and grow a wee bit older every day, we take steps toward our final destination: death.

David Shields said it well, “The thing about life is that one day you’ll be dead.” Point taken and it is a point of no return.

Biologically speaking, we are decaying from the day of conception. Every nanosecond brings death closer. In between, we will find puberty, adulthood, gray hair and wrinkles, menopause, midlife crisis, illness after illness, terminal illness and, eventually, the final blow that strikes right into our essence causing the final departure.

Some people think life is about chemistry and chemical reactions. Many believe it’s a spiritual matter. Life is a gift, nonetheless.

Let’s not debate whether life is a matter of the scientific rationale of natural selection, a part of the grand intelligent design or God’s ultimate blessing.

Whatever it is or isn’t, we are in it together. We live in this body and walk toward the point of no return. How we approach it and make it meaningful for ourselves and others are what matters. And how we tackle life’s bitter offerings determines the quality of our decisions and future solidity.

At certain points, we experience the so-called “re-evaluation” periods, in which we search high and low for some explanations and justifications on actions we took and are likely to take in the future. These are critical moments, and one of the most critical has an interesting name “midlife crisis.”

Some people experience their midlife crisis sooner than others. Many experience it more than once.

Others live a much more routine lifestyle and don’t even bulge to ask “why” and “how to improve.” It’s simply a matter of realization and materialization.

Whenever experiencing a hardship, it is always a good opportunity to learn, fix, and plan. A hardship is always a moment to reflect and, perhaps, acknowledge the bigger picture of who we are and how far this crisis takes us.

Laura Munson once wrote for the “Modern Love” column in The New York Times resulting in a book titled This is Not the Story You Think It is: A Season of Unlikely Happiness that her husband once rejected her and made a painful declaration about their relationship.

It is something that most of us have experienced, perhaps even more than once. In such moments, we often blame others and ourselves.

A marriage, after all, is a “blame game,” sarcastically speaking. We keep blaming each other until we can no longer blame but stay or leave. This explains why in USA, one out of four marriages ends in divorce.

But we humans can’t always be grateful. We err and derail. We get bored and bore others. We are enforcers of our ego. We don’t succumb to others’ demands and ultimatums. We need to stand tall. No matter what.

We often don’t realize the fleeting moments. And moment to moment, things change. And a hardened heart may be softened instantaneously without warning. And what we see on the surface might not be a good indication of what’s underneath, which is a principle in Jungian psychology.

Munson stood by her belief with calm and acceptance. Her husband’s crisis affected their family, but it shouldn’t have been the trigger of their union’s separation. With the strength of a regular human being and a woman, she simply didn’t respond to negativity. She said, “It is about choosing happiness over suffering. It’s about retraining the way we think.” A beautiful point taken.

A good lesson in crisis is for all of us to see the bigger picture and don’t accept suffering without our consent. Happiness, after all, is a choice regardless of the level of hardship we are experiencing.

Death might be seen as the ultimate crisis of all, because the fight against death is often felt as such.

Retraining how we think about death, other than it’s the time for us to leave this life is key to how we live today. An acceptance of life’s cycle of pain and joy and retraining our mind to selectively respond to external conditions should be able to carry us over to inner peace.

At last, be free to acknowledge bitterness and be free to not responding to bitterness with bitterness.

Death might not be so scary, life might not be so sweet and family life can be everything in between. It’s just a matter of perspective.[]

The Jakarta Post, October 4, 2010

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