Memes, memes, and more memes. They are everywhere. They can make you laugh, confuse you if you’re not in on the joke, raise your blood pressure, and provide inspiration among other emotions. Everyone needs inspiration – daily, if we’re being honest – but we aren’t always honest, nor do we always get the inspiration we need as often as we need it Or maybe we just aren’t paying attention to what’s going on right in front of us. Blame it on adulting… deadline at work, running late to pick up the kids, falling behind on bills, you name it. Blame it on short attentions spans because we have so much vying for our attention.
Every so often a situation happens in your life that hits you in places you don’t care to be hit. Life doesn’t care if your plate is already full. It piles on anyway. It pulls up a chair at your full table of truce-making. You’re trying to broker deals between relationship problems, self-confidence issues, a low bank account, and a dying car. You may even be starting to make headway with those bullies. Then life whispers in your ear, “You just lost your job.”
You’re stunned. Maybe you cry. Maybe you yell. Maybe you take a moment to step outside and recalibrate. None of those are bad answers. What you absolutely can’t do is run away. Life will catch you wherever you go. It’s an undefeated bounty hunter. Equally as damning is doing nothing. Complacency is a nagging scourge. My brother’s college friend/fraternity brother had a saying that caught his attention and eventually caught mine: “When you’re comfortable, it’s time to change.”
Three out of the last five Octobers, life tracked me down and brought change. I guess I was too comfortable. In those Octobers I’ve lost two jobs due to business decisions by my employers. The hardest of those three, though, was that October day in 2016 when my brother was murdered. That day changed me in ways I’m still discovering. That day was a marker in my life. If I see a date written out, my mind goes into auto-pilot and the words literally ring in my head, “That was before…,” or, “That was after…” There’s no hiding from it, only acknowledgement and acceptance.
When you are presented with a new challenge, how you respond is a culmination of the past you into the present you. What you’ve learned and how you’ve grown will shape the path you take. Thomas S. Monson once said, “We can’t direct the wind, but we can adjust the sails. For maximum happiness, peace, and contentment, may we choose a positive attitude.” I read that first sentence in a meme once. Just like those October days, I wasn’t looking for it, but it found me. It’s a phrase I think about often. Its greatest impact, however, isn’t when I’m deliberately thinking about how to fulfill its promise but when I’m letting its premise guide me instinctively.