Friday, May 1, 2020

Remedy for Disappointments

Source: Positive Psychology

I have envied people who go on as if nothing happened after they have been buffeted by the inevitable storms of life. They accept the tragic side of life just as a mountaineer accepts the unforeseen avalanches and crevasses on the way. There are many people who are apparently very ordinary but are greater heroes than mountaineers. The latter are embracing the adventure out for the thrill of it while the former are forced to face risk after risk just for survival. Imagine someone who can say, “My barn having burned down, I can now see the moon.” [17th century Japanese poet Mizuta Masahide wrote that line. Poets suffer more than the actual farmer whose real barn burns down. But that’s a different matter.]

I am no good at taking disappointments in my stride. I always wanted an easy life. Who doesn’t, right? Well, everyone wants it easy (except those crazy adventurers). Life is never easy, however. Life is like a vindictive god whose bloodlust is infinite. And we human beings are like the bamboo pole which can take more load than it looks capable of. Resilience runs deep in our veins.

Disappointments have driven me into depression quite a few times in life. On two occasions, it was really bad – so bad that I needed medical assistance. Now as I have just turned sixty and realise that I am a senior citizen who runs the risk of perishing at any moment, I have decided to accept disappointments as inevitable parts of life.  As inevitable as the air we breathe.

You save enough money with a lot of care and pain in order to go on a foreign tour, the dream of your life. And then comes the pandemic shutting down your dream – perhaps once and for all. Accept it with a sigh and keep hope alive. If your heart is broken, make art with the pieces, as Shane Koyczan advises.

My problem was that I refused to accept life as it is. Which means that I wanted only the roses and petunias and not the shit and the dementia. No way. If you want the roses and petunias, you have to take the shit and the dementia too. That’s lesson number one. The next time when shit happens, say Amen to it. You can avoid disappointment.

After that Amen, get on to your feet and start working. There is no other way. Our status here on the planet is not much better than the donkey’s: carry the burden. Don’t take all those scriptures and holy truths too seriously. I made that blunder and believed that I was a special creation of the best god in the heavens. We are nothing but beasts of burden (unless you are a crook and know how to be the boss wielding the whip on the asses and masses) and the burden is our birth right. Be thankful if your burden happens to be light enough to carry or if you are healthy enough to carry the big burdens. The truth is that the burden is always light enough or we are strong enough. That is one of the cruel jokes of life. The gods are clever enough. That’s lesson number two.

Once you accept these lessons, you can go on in spite of everything. Life becomes fun enough. You begin to see the comic side of life. You learn to smile if not laugh. You begin to admire the beauty on the wayside. You are ready for sacrifices.

That readiness will make you more vulnerable too. That is lesson number three. Be prepared for more wounds if you are virtuous enough to smile on the way and see the beauty of the brambles and the briars. There is beauty in suffering too at this stage. That is the final lesson.


  1. My father and mother were planning for a foreign trip after saving much, it got crashed with the lockdown. I guess many were planning their trip. I have never read this side of you, that's why its new to me. It's good to read. You always speak the facts though they may be quotes from books. They are the facts already written and I am discovering it now. I liked the quote. "If your heart is broken, make art with the pieces"

    1. Glad you continue to visit after the A2Z is over.

  2. One way to deal with disappointments is to lower our expectations. But sometimes expectations creep up involuntarily. All we can do is to accept the situation at hand, like you have said. Many plans have been put away because of the pandemic. I hope you find the comic side of life and get to smile during this time.

    1. Right, without expectations there will be no disappointments. Very Buddhist thinking.

      I have already discovered the comic side of life, Dashy. But the rebel in me is still very vibrant though I'm as old as the snow on the mountainside. :)

  3. You reminded me of something. Thank you for the post