We are not very good at predicting how we’ll feel about a given situation until we’re in it. Sometimes beyond it. This is true about any dramatic change in our lives – A job loss, love loss or a disability.
I remember an article in the New Yorker that talked about the near immediate regret Golden Gate Bridge jumpers, the few that actually lived to talk about it, felt as they left their perch.
From the October 13th 2003 New Yorker:
Survivors often regret their decision in midair, if not before. Ken Baldwin and Kevin Hines both say they hurdled over the railing, afraid that if they stood on the chord they might lose their courage. Baldwin was twenty-eight and severely depressed on the August day in 1985 when he told his wife not to expect him home till late. “I wanted to disappear,” he said. “So the Golden Gate was the spot. I’d heard that the water just sweeps you under.” On the bridge, Baldwin counted to ten and stayed frozen. He counted to ten again, then vaulted over. “I still see my hands coming off the railing,” he said. As he crossed the chord in flight, Baldwin recalls, “I instantly realized that everything in my life that I’d thought was unfixable was totally fixable—except for having just jumped.”
Kevin Hines was eighteen when he took a municipal bus to the bridge one day in September, 2000. After treating himself to a last meal of Starbursts and Skittles, he paced back and forth and sobbed on the bridge walkway for half an hour. No one asked him what was wrong. A beautiful German tourist approached, handed him her camera, and asked him to take her picture, which he did. “I was like, ‘Fuck this, nobody cares,’ ” he told me. “So I jumped.” But after he crossed the chord, he recalls, “My first thought was What the hell did I just do? I don’t want to die.”
In the above examples they didn’t know they wanted to live, until just before they were certain they were going to die. How sad then, for someone to think that life is over, or has such little value, because of becoming disabled, losing a job or other unexpected changes. We can not know the gifts that a change in our life experience may bring us until, unfortunately we are having the experience.
As strange as it might sound to an abled-bodied person, I’ve heard so many disabled and/or cancer thrivers say to me, ”this turned out to be the best thing that’s ever happened to me.”
The problem can be that you don’t know how long the pain or hard times will last. You get to the place that it feels like you can’t stand another second of it. It is just at the point that you want to give-up, that you need to take one more step. Take one more step. it might just be what you need to do to get to where you want to be. You’ll never know, however, if you give up one step short. The dog in the following parable, learned this truth the hard way…
A story about a dog looking for enlightenment:
A dog is walking down a hot, dusty road, walking, walking, and walking. He was to walk until he reached enlightenment. The dog kept asking, “how much longer do I have to walk?” and the answer from the Buddha was always, “just a little ways longer.” And so he kept walking, hot and tired and thirsty. “How much longer” the dog asks again. “Just a little ways longer,” came the reply. Well the dog finally is so warn out and so disillusioned he lay down in the middle of the hot and dusty road. Just as he does, SPLAT…He’s hit by a car and killed. Now dead, the dog asks the Buddha again, how much longer would I have had to walk to reach enlightenment?
The answer…”Just an inch past splat”