Discounting failed marriages and bad investments, both of which count as major disasters, most of life’s problems are little things. Dinners burnt. Stuff you meant to pick up at the grocery, but forgot. Appointments missed. Fender benders, dents, dings, and forgotten oil changes. Tires that got old too fast. Appliances that stop working before you finish paying for them. Computer viruses and bad software.
Little things can accumulate into bigger things. If you forget enough appointments with your dentist, you lose the tooth. When you burn the holiday dinner, those accusing eyes at the dinner table can make you feel like the turkey at the feast. The Titanic was not sunk by a big hole in the hull. It was thousands of popped rivets that turned her into a sieve. And down went the big ship to the briny deep.
Speaking of the small stuff and a life of perpetual crisis, I have an acquaintance — an almost friend — for whom everything is the end of the world. Life is one huge calamity. She’s a Facebook kind of gal, so no matter what happens, she’s telling the world the sky is falling. On her. It’s personal. If it’s snowing, it’s to punish her. Ditto if it’s raining. (She’s the person who complains it’s raining in the middle of a drought.)
I thought about it one day after reading one of her posts. Her usual collection of followers were commenting on how she is the unluckiest woman on earth.
Is she? A few minutes of pondering made me realize I have as many bumps in my road of life as she does. On a bad year, probably more. Mostly, unless it’s serious enough to sink the ship of state, I fix the problem as best I can and move on.
So much of “disaster” is perspective, response, and perception. We choose how to deal with the stuff we encounter. I expect the airline to lose our luggage (or some piece of it), but I also count on them to find it again. It’s an inconvenience, not the end of the world. I try not to let it define our travels.
If every problem is a cataclysm, we are the boy who cried wolf. Our friends and family stop listening so when a really bad thing happens … no one is there.