A couple weeks ago I was driving to Weight Watchers feeling sorry for myself. We were still dealing with the paperwork from the car accident in August, I’ve had wave after wave of MS symptoms since the end of August, and my mother-in-law had just died. I was thrown off my game and I gained a bit of weight back. Why shouldn’t I feel sorry for myself?
Then I noticed a normal looking person walking down the street. He didn’t appear to have anything wrong, but as I watched him I wondered what was going on in his life right then. Had he gone through a rough patch? What life-changing events was he struggling with? I realized others at Weight Watchers may also be discouraged by a recent weight gain, maybe even because they’d lost someone in their lives of late. I wasn’t unique. Thank God!
Of course, each person is unique in their own way, but as far as dealing with the rough patches in life, I was not. Not being unique meant I wasn’t alone. I wasn’t the only one who had problems like mine. There were others who understood. Why else would there be a whole group for people struggling with their weight if I was that different from anyone else? I walked into that meeting with a new attitude for myself and towards those around me.
The news about the derailed train last week was heart wrenching. What should have been a momentous event became a tragic page in the history books. It’s disheartening to think of those who died and their families who had no reason to expect their loved ones wouldn’t return home. It’s also sad to think of the people who were injured in the accident or saw it happen and how they will have months or years of emotional trauma to recover from.
Happenings such as the wreck remind me how precious yet precarious life is. I was tossed back to this summer remembering how close I came to losing my husband in the car accident. We, however, did come home. Comedian Patton Oswalt has a special on Netflix about how he and his seven year old daughter dealt with the loss of his wife and her mother. He talked about how they managed the first days and months after Michelle McNamara died unexpectedly in her sleep. She was a true crime writer who immersed herself in researching and writing about real crimes and the victims. Because of the material she gathered about life’s horrors, she had a motto for the way she tried to live her life: It’s chaos, be kind.
When something horrific happens like the train wreck, 9/11, or random shootings, our foundations are shaken even if we weren’t directly involved. We take a look inside ourselves and ask hard questions that perhaps direct our lives. What do we answer ourselves? How do we conduct ourselves going forward? How will we take on the New Year? Hopefully with an awakening that we share this planet with others who are not so different from ourselves.
To me Ms. McNamara’s motto means go forth with life and remember all those we come into contact with are also members of the human race. We all have our tragedies and struggles. We only have to watch the news each night to know we share similarities. The knowledge calls for us to handle one another with care and reminds us that we are all worthy and we are all loved.
It’s chaos, be kind.
Gretchen Leigh is a stay-at-home mom who lives in Covington. You can read more of her writing and her blog on her website livingwithgleigh.com, on Facebook at “Living with Gleigh by Gretchen Leigh,” or twitter @livewithgleigh. Her column is available every week at maplevalleyreporter.com under the Life section.