Sunday, April 10, 2011

A Sneak Peek at the Upside

   I do much thinking, observing and self examination and until very recently, didn’t share any of that process with anyone to any great depth. I’ve decided to write a book about this process in the hope that somebody even cares to know it...and that it can in some way, be of some positive use to someone struggling to grasp a balanced understanding of a particular situation, or just contemplating the details of life itself. 
   My first book “Survivor’s Guide to a Recession: 50 States” is very specific in addressing the economic hardships that are being experienced all across the country. I encourage everyone to get a copy and share a copy because anyone can be effected by a troubled economy...and everyone is.
   The title of my second book is “The Unseen Reflection: Marinations in Life” and it is written to be interactive with the reader, embarking on a profound journey through every facet of life from my unique perspective. I am determined to leave the world a bit better than the condition I was cast into it...emulating the words " Every angle cannot be seen until there is commitment to turning the shape." The following is a partial excerpt of “The Unseen Reflection: Marinations in Life,” that I hope all will enjoy. The book will be available later this year.
Chapter 17
January 6, 2010
We often seem to realize that things really aren't that bad...right after they become exponentially worse. Appreciate your situation for what it is...and be thankful for what it isn't.
     I often wonder to myself how much better, or perhaps worse, the world and our personal relationships would be if we always endeavored to put situations in perspective. I personally think things would be better...but I can’t ignore the possibility that they might actually get worse. I try to think on an optimistic level and keep things in perspective...from my point of view, thus I find myself saying “it could be worse” or “there’s always an upside”  whenever faced with a situation that has the potential to drag my spirits down and my attitude out.
     I like to shock people sometime with a very extreme example of there always being an upside. I use a scenario in which a man finally realizes his dream to go skydiving. He has saved up the money, taken all the lessons, gotten time off from work and is finally on his way to fly among the clouds and experience a feeling of freedom that can only be realized by jumping out of a perfectly functioning airplane (you guessed it, I’m not a fan of skydiving). 
     The man gets on the plane and can hardly contain himself as the plane takes off. His euphoria is building to near critical because his mind has already moved to the moment he leaps from the plane, even though his body has yet to follow. The plane reaches the right altitude and the word is given! The man leaps and it’s as if he has finally found the meaning to life and discovered the purpose of the universe...all at once. The wind beneath him, the air currents around him...he cannot form a coherent thought that describes the feeling going through him.
     Then he reaches his altitude for deploying the parachute. It saddens him just a little that his dance with heaven will soon be over, but he is excited at the idea that this door will now forever be open to him. He pulls the ripcord...and nothing happens! He pulls the emergency ripcord to the back-up parachute...and nothing happens! All at once he realizes that the parachutes will not be coming out and this will be his only dive from the sky. His heart and mind sink to the depths of his soul...and he feels them somewhere on the bottom of his feet. He is going to die...
     It’s at this point that I ask my million dollar question to whomever I’m talking to: What’s the upside? I have had the most interesting facial responses to this question that I have actually thought about doing a video blog on this just to share the incredible array of expressions. The answers have been equally interesting and surprisingly enough, nobody has ever answered the question with the answer I have for the question. I usually wait a few minutes and let the story sink in and the thought process take hold before revealing the upside.
     The upside is: the man’s death will be quick, instantaneous even. This moment is another for the video me. The most common response is “Yeah...but he’s going to die”. It’s tough for most to get their mind firmly planted around the idea that the final outcome of this situation is indeed death. The thought being that if the end result is death, then there can’t possibly be an upside. How can there be anything good about death? As I said, it’s the most common response, but it also shows how often the point of my example is missed.
     The man is going to die. I’ll say it again...the man is going to die. The upside rests in how he is going to die, not the fact that he may have a chance at life. His death will be as quick as a blink when he finally hits the ground. I think that to be a preferable way to go, than being tortured for fifteen hours by enemy combatants before finally succumbing to your wounds. Fifteen hours of complete agony before reaching the certainty of death? thanks. A blink is preferable to me than taking a year and a half to finally succumb to cancer. The agony and constant decline of your body is a nightmare beyond words in my mind.
     Some people retort that the man will be defecating on himself all the way down from the moment of parachute malfunction discovery...or that he will have a heart attack at the prospect of his body exploding on impact...and he might. He also might be of the mind to appreciate the situation for what it is...a quick and instant death, and be thankful he isn’t being tortured for hours or dying slowly in constant agony over time. This is a very extreme example, but if we can understand and grasp the idea in the extreme, then we can easily apply this idea with the mundane.
     In our everyday lives we come across situations that we think are as bad as they can be...only to realize that they weren’t as bad as we thought they were. This realization often comes the minute the situation gets worse. Your at a sporting event at odds with yourself because of the location of your seats, then it begins to thunderstorm. You get a flat tire in the middle of nowhere and can’t stop cursing about the time you will lose on your trip having to change the flat, only to discover there is no spare tire. Then you grumble about having to wait for a tow service, only to realize you have no signal for your cell phone to even make the call.
     There are many examples in all of our lives of how we paint a situation in the worst possible light...until the lighting changes and we see things clearly. Your job is cutting back on your rate of pay and you think that it really stinks that they’re doing that, but you’re still thankful to at least be working. You get into a car accident and break your leg, but at least you’re alive and well, apart from the broken leg. 
     I don’t know the long term ramifications of a universally adopted philosophy of always seeing the “upside” and being thankful that any given situation is not worse than it is...but it may be worth the effort, just to find out.


  1. an awesome offering to all that dare to challenge themselves....

  2. Thank you sir! I'm hoping that more people step up and do just that...:-)