When you’re happy it can make you sad and when you’re sad it can make you happy.
There’s an odd comfort to be found in the old Hebrew saying “This too shall pass”. It’s a hard pill to swallow, especially when things are going well, but its necessary medication for the human condition.
Change is something you can always count on sooner or later, with death, taxes and transformation seeming to be some of life’s few constants.
Sure, your dog is always ecstatic to see you when you get home, but as time goes by age takes its toll. People move on and friends come and go, with comforts and misfortunes here one instance and gone the next like a Snapchat story.
Just about the time you get used to something time runs its course and a person has to move on rather they’re willing to except it or not.
When things are bad, take it one step at a time, work towards bettering your situation and remember, you won’t be dissatisfied forever. And when things are good remain vigilant and don’t get too comfortable, because you’ve got to roll with the punches to survive the fight.
Life can go topsy-turvy at any moment and it usually happens when you least expect it.
It’s something I learned when I was twelve years old, when I was practically dragged off the couch while watching Hey Arnold! and moved overseas to live in West Africa for a year with my family.
A Crucial Lesson
I spent my seventh grade year in Dakar, Senegal at an English speaking boarding school while my parents worked in the mission field. It was the early 2000’s, about a year after September 11th.
Most of my life had been pretty routine before that. I was an entitled Mid-Western kid decked out in American Eagle, obsessed with Linkin Park and Nickelodeon.
School, sports and church every Sunday and Wednesday was pretty much my life. My father was a women’s basketball coach at a Junior College and he also ran the school’s fitness center. Budget cuts forced the college to slash my dad’s full-time position running the gym, and in a moment of existential clarity, my parents decided to thrust the Motsinger family onto the global scene.
We were taking a sabbatical from American life and hopping the pond.
From So. Ill to the Sahara
At the time I couldn’t even fathom living anywhere else besides southern Illinois. Yea, I had been around the country on summer vacation, but Senegal? I didn’t even know where that country was on the map. Would my Gameboy Advance even work over there?
I left America a bratty, immature little sixth grader and came back a year later over six-feet tall with a much deeper voice. My little brother was in Kindergarten when we lived in Senegal, but he barley remembers that year. I remember the experience very clearly, however, and I still hold dear to the lessons I learned there.
It was a rough, but very necessary year for me. I learned what it was like to be uncomfortable and scared. I was in very unfamiliar surroundings, and right after 9/11 it was a strange time to be an American overseas in an Islamic country.
I was an unsuspecting kid in a life-changing and complex situation, kind of like Marty McFly.
Only this was all too real. I got sick frequently and our family spent a lot of time in rural villages without running water or electricity. It took some serious adjusting.
Mom Comes in Clutch
One night towards the begging of our year there, I remember lying in my mother’s arms in a fevered and dizzy daze. I looked up at her hoping for comforting words and I got just that.
“This too shall pass,” she said to her sickly seventh grader. I’ve obviously never forgotten that. There are some things in life that stick with you forever and her saying that to me was one of them.
We eventually went back to our lives in southern Illinois, and towards the end of our overseas adventure I didn’t want to return. Over the course of a year my attitude had changed drastically. It was painful and lonely at times, but it made me tough and gave me perspective.
The Touching Take Away
Without my Senegalese experience I may have never learned the lesson I wish to impart with you today:
You can always weather the storm by remembering that when things are bad they won’t always be that way. Tread lightly, and remember that when things are good they won’t always be that way forever either, so enjoy every satisfying moment because it too will pass
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