I came to a rather profound conclusion today, of which I will get to shortly, because this one requires a little bit of context.
So I decided to get up and out for a little spot of exercise, by taking one my little nature walks down the street. After all, if I am to keep my cholesterol under control, I’ve got to get back to what I was doing before my world turned upside-down.
When I got to the park, I took a little breather on a bench that happens to be one of my pre-determined rest stops. As I was sitting there, letting the sun wash over me, my thoughts turned to Hugh. The next thing I knew, I was talking to dead people, my mother included. So, I let the little exercise play out – I got up and began walking again on a rather hidden, secluded path behind the actual park – where I would have the privacy to talk to myself, er, dead people.
I told them both that if ever there was a time in my life when I needed help, now is that time. I’m facing many different challenges in my life today, some known, some private. I told them I needed their help, their strength, their attitude and wisdom if I am to overcome these challenges. I gently reminded them both that I don’t recall ever asking for assistance from the great beyond.
I then came to a fork in the path behind the park.
I chose to turn around and head back, as I didn’t want to overdo it. As I was heading back upon the twisty little path, and pondering the hereafter (and asking Hugh and my mom for any sign), I came across an older gentleman who was out walking his dogs. Up ahead, he had sat down on the only bench on the trail to rest. As I shuffled past him, he asked if I was counting my footsteps. I told him no, I was instead talking to dead people. “Ahh, sorry to hear that.” he replied.
He seemed friendly enough so I decided to sit down next to him and his two dogs. We started talking. We talked about this and that, the absurdity of life, the transient nature of reality, and so on. He had mentioned something about how little control we have over anything, and how drastically rude people can affect us, and then suddenly, like a bolt of lightning, an epiphany struck my brain.
“Eureka!” I exclaimed.
Attitude is the only thing we as human beings can truly claim to have absolute control over. If someone is awful to us, and we respond in kind, we effectively relinquish what tiny piece of control we truly have over to someone else. As if enough of life wasn’t out of our control, we invariably give up THE ONE THING WE DO have control over. To put it another way, say you have 1,000 dollars tied up in various assets and things. But, you only have control over 10 of those dollars and they are in your pocket right now. If someone comes up to you and kicks you in the shins because they suck, would you respond by giving them 8 of your 10 dollars?
Of course not. But that’s exactly what we’re doing when we submit control of our attitude over to others, who, of all people, are the least deserving of it. We’re allowing awful people to take control of the only thing we have control over.
We allow them to negatively affect our attitudes. And the last thing the world needs right now is more negativity. I’m not saying to go out and buy the jerk who cut you off lunch. What I’m gently suggesting, is perhaps we should maintain control over the last bastion of what we can rightfully claim as ours: our attitudes.
Maybe that was Hugh’s secret. Maybe that was my mom’s secret. I think they refused to give up the one thing they knew they had absolute control over — their attitudes. I told this to my park-bench friend, and with a furrowed brow, and upturned finger, he said “You know, I think you just might be onto something there.”
As we parted ways, I thanked him, and told him that I was walking away from the encounter a richer person.
“As am I” he said.
Serendipity? Coincidence? Synchronicity? You be the judge. All I can tell you is that I’ve never lost a friend before, and I’ve never walked around a park talking to dead people before, and I’ve never sat on a park bench talking to a complete stranger before. Statistically, perhaps it was time for all those things to finally happen all at once…
…or, maybe not.