Roller Coaster - Mr Bean

Those Fun Vicissitudes of Life

The dust is settling, and I have chance now to reflect and think about what I could have done better.

Those Fun Vicissitudes of Life

The last two years were a season for change.

I was fortunate enough to marry the love of my life. Hooray!

Bryan and Amanda Beus

We found out we would not be able to have children naturally… 🙁 Booo.

Thumbs Down - Gladiator

After six years of toil, I finished writing and illustrating my first novel! Hooray!

Westly - Book Jacket

At the same time, my eyesight got so bad that, for awhile, I could not see the hand in front of my face. 🙁 Booo.

Thumbs Down - Sandler

We decided that in light of all the change, that I should seek new career skills, and I started an MBA with Carnegie Mellon. Hooray!Elmo - Happy Dance

And with taking a break from art and drawing all day, my eyesight has mostly returned. Hooray!

Happy Dance

And, on our last try at IVF (in vitro fertilization), we became pregnant! Hooray!

Happy Dance - Ellen Show

We found out the gender: It’s a boy! Hooray!

Little Rascals - Oh Boy

Hooray, hooray, hooray!

Why is it so hard to be grateful?

Funny how things go up and down. I’ve had a good chance to learn to be grateful, but at times, I admit, I’ve really, really struggled with this.

Roller Coaster - Mr Bean

Something that I’m having to learn the hard way (why, oh why, do I always have to learn things the HARD WAY?!?) is that happiness is dependent upon our attitude, not our circumstances.

Happiness - Demotivational Poster

Things can always get so much worse. The low points of the last two years were definitely…definitely NOT the darkest parts of my life. Those occurred in my late twenties.

But even though the last two years were not the worst, I still found myself sometimes being quite unhappy. Even a bit angry, and bitter, and resentful.

Why is it so hard, when we’re going through trials, to just take a step back and say to ourselves, “Hey, it could always be worse!”?

Robinson Crusoe Cover

Add a dash of Robinson Crusoe

While I was reading Robinson Crusoe I came across a really beautiful thought on this that I wanted to share.

Quick background: You probably already generally know the story. Crusoe gets washed up on an island all alone. At first, he is completely depressed and names the island, “The Island of Despair.”

After a long time of survival he manages to get together a small boat that, though too small to sail across the ocean, could be useful for fishing and he tests it out on the open ocean.

Much to his surprise, the current around the island is so fast that it whisks him away from his little shore before he can even catch his breath.

As he watches the island shrink into the distance he shares these thoughts:

Now I looked back upon my desolate, solitary island as the most pleasant place in the world and all the happiness my heart could wish for was to be but there again.  I stretched out my hands to it, with eager wishes—“O happy desert!” said I, “I shall never see thee more.  O miserable creature! whither am going?”  Then I reproached myself with my unthankful temper, and that I had repined at my solitary condition; and now what would I give to be on shore there again!  Thus, we never see the true state of our condition till it is illustrated to us by its contraries, nor know how to value what we enjoy, but by the want of it.

This passage has stuck in my mind since I read it last week, and I wanted to share it with you. I’ve been mulling it over as I look at the many ups and downs of life, and thinking about how the “lows” of our vicissitudes in life are really only relative.

How about you? Do you have any favorite quotes, thoughts, passages that you come back to when struggling to be grateful? Let me know in the comments!

Originally, this was a much longer blog post. I split it up and am spreading it out over the next few days. Feel free to stop on by again, y’all.