Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Fight the Odds

Years ago when I was going through a bad spell, a favorite cousin gave me a copy of the book "When bad things happen to good people." I was (still am) a fiction reader, and quite suspicious of anything that came in the guise of a "self-help" book. So it took me a while to read it. During the course of that read, the bad spell that had lingered on for a bit, died a sudden, miraculous death. By the time I'd read the last page, my faith in humanity and God had been restored.
The author, a rabbi had simply put together anecdotes to explain the work of God in our lives. He explained that when things went wrong, it wasn't God's doing. It wasn't your karma, or some sort of punishment for your deeds. So when a huriccane dislodged millions from their homes, and left them bankrupt, it wasn't God's wrath. However, when those people found the strength to pick themselves up, and rebuild their lives, it was God's work.
That idea was instrumental in encouraging me to bounce back. If the man who'd lost a lifetime's savings in a fire, and the lady who had lost family to a destructive Tsunami could do it, so could I. My problems paled in comparison, so I'd definitely find it easier. I had a strong support system consisting of friends and family, who gave me their continous support.

For inspiration I looked to people in the family. My dad had lost his sister and family to the Kanishka crash, my mom had lost her sister to cancer, and cousins had lost their mother to cancer when they were very young. Life hadn't been fair to those who'd survived, and yet they'd found the courage to wake up each morning, smile, and live. That had to be God's work.

Around me, I saw more tales of inspiration. A colleague-turned-friend had escaped years of physical and mental abuse by finally finding the strength to divorce her sadistic husband. If she was mild, young, and so hurt, she soon became stronger, independant, ambitious, and ready for love again. That had to be God's work.

During the course of those many years, I heard several stories about people who had fought the odds. I heard about the man who'd missed two air crashes. He'd lost his wife and daughters in the first one. He'd somehow managed to live past that tragedy. I saw Tsunami victims rebuild their lives with renewed faith in God and mankind. I heard about road accidents, that snuffed the life out of exuberant youngsters who left behind grieving families. Those families had lived to see another day. I felt the sorrow of all those who lost loved ones to meaningless terrorist attacks allover the world. The excrutiating pain of these people seems so terrifying. Was it enough for them to give up on people? Was it enough for them to end their lives and never hope for a happy future? It wasn't, and I often wondered how they found the strength. That had to be God's work.

I once asked a cousin how she was able to pray each day. She'd lost her son to a fatal asthmatic attack when he was only 6. Her eyes welled up, but she managed a smile. She said, "I think he was lucky. He died an innocent, missed all the cruelty in the world, and went straight to be with God. I miss him though. Now I focus on making sure my other child lives a good life, so we are all united eventually." It was that faith that urged her to wake up each morning, and live as God intended her to live. Many years later, the pain of losing a child lingers on, but she has found many reasons to live, celebrate, and look to the future with hope. That is God's work.

I'm in awe of all these amazing people (there are many many more), who continue to rise above their sorrows every day. This is probably why I have little sympathy for those who take the other route. They are disgruntled, unhappy people who nurture grudges, and give up completely on people. They aren't open to friendly gestures and rarely ever reciprocate. They live in self-created islands with a few people they love. They miss out on vital relationships because of their stubborness. Luckily for us, it isnt the end for them, and hopefully some day we'll see God's work in their lives.