Sometimes life takes an unexpected turn and all we had planned for suddenly becomes unachievable and even irrelevant in the new world order. It makes us go back to the drawing board. But we stare at it, stumped, unable to chart a path forward in the changed geography of our lives.
How can you re-imagine your life when all the rules you lived by no longer apply? The foundations of your life are shaken and you find yourself on unsteady grounds.
Unfortunately, there is no easy answer, but search we must.
We can look back to people who had rebuilt their lives, cities, and entire countries post-war. Surely they were faced with similar issues and yet they used the momentum of their grief to propel themselves forward. By putting all their energy into rebuilding, they must have felt a brief respite from their pain.
I think of European countries and how they must have dealt with creating a new world order post the end of German occupation. They were a people left with unhealable wounds caused by personal injury and loss of families, friends, homes, and businesses in a post-Nazi world.
I think of post-partition India and Pakistan. How, triumph over the fallen British Raj had been overshadowed, almost completely, by the trauma of a single country divided into two based on religion. How it must have felt when the border moved and you found your home in a ‘foreign’ country.
These are dramatic events of national and even international scale. But we would be fooling ourselves if we said that these were random occurrences in history. Rare events that aren’t expected to repeat or recur. We know that is not true. On any given day, human life can be significantly overturned by a single life event.
A twenty-one-year-old mother finding herself in charge of a special needs child whose every breath is a battle that she fights alongside him. Keeping him alive is a challenge and yet every minute of precious life is lived in the morbid fear of death and disease.
A thirty-year-old homemaker and mother of two finds herself widowed. Cancer took away her life partner in a matter of months. Their final months together are a blur of doctors and hospitals. He never got a chance to leave his legacy to his minor children or somehow empower his wife. For she was now to occupy the position of Head of Household, while grappling with loneliness in a foreign country.
A retired couple loses both their health and their life savings at the same time, to unforeseen circumstances. They are compelled to leave their lifelong residence and move to an unfamiliar neighborhood. They have to navigate the complexities of their new location – starting from the milkman and the laundry lady to rebuilding a social network at the ripe age of 70.
None of these were events were planned for. They came and they turned the world upside down. And what are we to do but bow down to our destiny and accept our fate?
Life is grief, life is challenge, life is unexpected and life is change. Yet we must live on. In the face of all our trials and tribulations, we need to get on.
Keeping our faith and applying all the inner strength we can summon, we have to take that next step. When living a day at a time is hard, we live an hour, or even a minute at a time. But live we must.