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Taking Life’s Punches and Coming Out A Winner

Getting through the first round


Life will bring its trials and tribulations. Accompanied with such difficulties will come advice and wisdom from friends, families and possibly even coworkers. Much like the way a pigeon feeds it’s young; these people will regurgitate cliché after cliché in hopes of nurturing our desire to make sense of senseless events. Unfortunately, we’re not pigeons and the trite information they give just makes us more vomituous. They mean well, so we listen and humor them, all the while getting more and more frustrated that the people we hold near and dear to us aren’t more insightful and perceptive.


At the point in time they’re most inclined to talk to us we are, for all intents and purposes… deaf. Whether it’s a lost dog, a deceased relative or a difficult break up that we’re dealing with, there’s just so much on our mind. We’re sad. Then we get angry at ourselves for being sad. Then we’re frustrated for still being angry about being sad. Then we get defensive to counter against the apparent vulnerability we show. More and more and more we sink. We want nothing more than to be awakened from the dark nightmare that our troubles have brought us into. We want the people close to us to pull us out. Instead they infuriate us further with the banter they keep presenting.


This chapter explores those clichés in a somewhat cynical manner. Let’s be honest. While they’re saying those all too common phrases they don’t really expect a response. If you were to reply with, “Wow, no one’s ever said that to me” or “no one’s ever put it that way” they would probably be shocked and with good reason. They heard it time after time from someone else. It didn’t really do much for them at the time but somehow they figure you might get some use out of it. The point is that you’re looking for “abra cadabra” and you get “have a cadaver.” They’re staring you straight in the face and you probably want them out of your space.  While they’re spitting off something from they’re desk calendar, you’re fantasizing about just spitting. If you were to give them an unwarranted response it would probably be one of these.


“Hopefully, something good will come along.”

So, basically everything thus far has been crap? How uplifting.


“Take it ‘one day at a time’.”

No, I think I’ll take all my problems at once. As a matter of fact, I’m going to find a psychic who can tell me what problems I’ll have in future days and worry about those now, too.


“It just wasn’t meant to be.”

So, you’re saying I’ve been living in opposition of fate and somehow got away with it up until this point? When exactly did it stop being meant?


“It’s probably for the best.”

That’s what I told my friend when his dog was run over. Little did he know, I was saying it because the dog barked all night and I was glad to see it gone. Are you saying I’m annoying you?


“Everything happens for a reason”

Then riddle me this, oh wise man. Why do mosquitoes exist?

(Feel free to walk away at this point, they’re going to be a while.)


“Time heals all wounds.”

So does triple antibiotic ointment, except the packaging tells me it will take, “two weeks or less.”


“It’ll all be over soon”

That’s so comforting to hear from someone who isn’t my dentist, chiropractor or insurance agent. Thank you.


“Tomorrow’s another day”

It’s a good thing I have friends like you. For a second there I thought my calendar was just telling me lies.


“Keep your chin up”

So the next person that comes along has a clear opening to deck me in the face like the last person who screwed me over?


“It takes more muscles to frown than it does to smile”

How many muscles would it take to knock you unconscious so I don’t have to listen to your babble?


“No matter how bad it is, it could always be worse”

Great, the next time I’m screaming in agony from stumping my toe I’m sure the first thing on my mind will be that I should be thankful for having a foot.


“Someone out there has it worse than you”

Then perhaps I should seek out that person and get some useful advice because talking to you is just getting me more aggravated. Where might I find this martyr?


“Today is the first day of the rest of your life.”

Good to know. I don’t think I could have handled all this pressure during infancy, what with all the vomiting, crying and sleeping I was doing back then. Oh wait, stress caused me to do all that yesterday.


“No use crying over spilt milk.”

How about blood? The last time I saw blood spilt all over the floor and on my hands, I giggled. Do you think that’s appropriate? (They’ll probably leave you alone after that.)


“When life gives you lemons…”

You throw them at whoever pisses you off until they fall on the ground unconscious. Then you stand over their bruised and bloody body and drip the lemon juice in their eyes and on their wounds. After that you shove the seeds up their nostrils so they get lodged inside… I’m sorry; you were saying?


Switch up to south paw


No doubt the preceding words may not be the most helpful or therapeutic, but the time is right. Let’s not belittle those moments and discredit their worth completely. For within those moments lies a great opportunity and willingness for knowledge. The right words from the right people could change the course of what happens after you’ve experienced such hardships. However, conventional methods have brought conventional results. Let’s try something different. Perhaps some enlightenment might come from these inspirational and thought provoking phrases. It’s worth a shot, right?


“Be the change you wish to see”


People will continually let us down. As surely as the sun rises and sets, someone will lead us to believe one thing and do another. We put the blame completely on them, of course, but the fault is somewhat ours as well. For the greatest indication of how you want to be treated is how you treat others. Want your spouse to talk more? Initiate communication. Think people should be more appreciative? Make a point to thank others. Feel like the world is full of inherently evil people? Open doors, say hello and give a smile here and there. You get the picture. It’s simply said and unfortunately, hardly done.


This doesn’t solve all of the hardships that may come your way but it does prevent the uneasy feeling of blaming yourself later. Which is never a good thing, but people do it all the time. Mostly because there’s no one else around (especially in break ups, because the two of you aren’t talking). Because you can’t question the other involved parties, you start to question yourself and hold yourself accountable. As stated, the accountability should be held during the resolve in the beginning, not during the suffering at the end. Deteriorating your confidence is completely destructive and only makes you feel victimized. It’s your confidence that carries you through these times, so you must keep it intact.


 Go within or go without


This is especially helpful in times of tremendous loss. Not just the loss of a loved one but also the foreclosure of a house or the repossession of a car. We as a society have an affliction of attaching emotions to tangible objects. Our staples for success are usually something monetary. We are driven to get to certain statuses so that we can adorn ourselves with the symbols and verifications of such “dominant” ranks. It’s all empty, of course, but thus far the only individuals privileged with that knowledge had to experience an indescribable thrashing. Many have risen and fallen but have been blessed to have landed on steadier ground. However, that priceless knowledge is privy to anyone willing to accept it.


You see, the phrase “go within or go without” means just that. It’s not “deep” or complicated. Success for instance, is something measured in many ways by many people. Some people say, “I’m successful because I drive this new car and have a house that’s 3 stories and has 8 bedrooms.” But what happens when debt gets the best of them? Where is their success when the Mercedes turns into a Hyundai and the huge house becomes a 2 bedroom apartment? As far as they’re concerned, they’ve failed. That’s not the truth of the situation, it’s just the truth they care to see.


Success is a beautiful, euphoric and strengthening emotion that has the ability to replicate itself over and over. You get one thing done and it gives you the confidence to do more and therefore, accomplish more. Regrettably, that intangible source of energy and rejuvenation loses its invincibility when you associate it to something with an expiration date. It isn’t just success that suffers from this, though. Stability always has some financial association; when it’s simply the achievement of mental peace that really creates a sense of solidity within ones self. Respect is another remarkable and often times tainted feeling. There is great joy in knowing that your intellect, work ethic and capabilities are acknowledged and understood but most people denounce such a feeling if it isn’t accompanied by a promotion or a raise. Even love is often only recognized when it’s attached to some sort of shiny and expensive trinket or some fancy gathering to proclaim its existence.  Beautiful, indestructible, and insurmountable sensations that were mistakenly given an expiration date and forced to fade away. Hence, “go without.”


This brings us back to the, “go within” part. Take hold of what matters before the distortion of your perception makes it impossible. Your successes, achievements, loves and hard work are yours to have for as long as you choose to see them. Whatever comes with them is just supplementary. Seize ownership of all the wonderful things you deserve to feel; for they can never be lost, stolen, broken, burned or taken from you when they’re in their purest form.  When someone or something comes along to take away the fruits of your labor, you’ll focus your attention on the tree they came from and see that the fruit they got was rotten anyway.  You’ll enrich the soil and find the fruit that comes after is all that sweeter. Within that, you won’t lose anything.


 “It’s not the destination, it’s the journey”


Sounds too cheesy, right? Let’s bitter it up and darken it down. Let’s say the destination is death and life is the journey. So, basically you’re going to die and probably not all nice and cozy like while you’re sleeping in your craftmatic bed at the age of 95. Maybe you’ll burn to a crisp in a fire. Maybe your car will break down in the wrong side of town and before your friends can come to help, you’ll be lying dead on the ground with an empty wallet. Maybe a nice relaxing day of fishing ends up with you slipping on someone’s water bottle and getting chopped up by the propeller. There’s always the possibility that “mumbles something about a shotgun” comes in to work and you find yourself standing in his crosshairs.


However it may happen, you will die. It will probably hurt, a lot. You’ll start bargaining with whatever higher power you believe in (even if you don’t believe now, you’ll believe in that moment) and promise to live differently. You’ll think about everything you never said and everything you never did. You’ll think to yourself that you should have and say that you would if you had another chance. In that instant you will remember all the great things in your life worth living for. Your life will appear beautiful and pleasant in retrospection. Unfortunately, by the time you realize all the beautiful content in your book of life and all the ways you could have written it, you will be ripped from the earth just like a page out of you book. The last page of course.


Does the phrase seem a little more real now? Not so cheesy now, huh?  Getting laid off, losing your wallet or finding out your husband’s been cheating on you doesn’t seem so bad anymore, right? You chose not to look at the roses and dandelions so you got stung by the bees and pricked by the thorns. You decline the offer for a nice hippy hug and find yourself getting a good old slap in the face instead. That’s not the route this phrase was supposed to head into. Let’s revisit the point.


As with books and films, we concentrate too much on the ending. All too often you dismiss the knowledge and amusement that lies within the core of the story and just want to see how it comes to a close. “The movie was good but I didn’t like the ending.” Or, “hey, did you see blah, blah, blah… wait, don’t tell me how it ends.” That’s all we care about. As a child, when we’re being tucked in bed and read a story, we can’t fall asleep without knowing it ends “happily ever after.” That’s fine for films and stories that only require a 2-3 hour investment of your time, but this is your life we’re talking about and you already know how it’s going to end (or do we need to come up with some more morbid endings?)


If you live in fear and worry of what’s to come, you’re not living at all. If you focus too much on getting somewhere and how far you feel from there, you’ll miss all the good stuff along the way. If you place too much importance and sacrifice too much of today for a twice as good tomorrow, you’ll always feel jipped. Don’t forget, death will always find a way to work itself into your busy schedule. Be present. Be here and now. Not next week or next month or next year. This is life. This minute, with these people. If you keep focusing on the mountain before you, you’ll stumble over the stones beneath you. Enjoy.




Remember the letter V whenever trouble comes your way. There are three kinds of people when it comes to seemingly catastrophic events: villains, victims and victors. You’re the one who wronged someone else, you’re the one who’s been mistreated or you were either of those two and got passed it completely.


So, let’s say you’re the villain. You hurt someone, broke something or negatively affected the life of someone else, to whatever extent that may be. From something as simple as misinterpreting information to driving drunk and killing someone’s aunt. Regardless of whether it’s you or the victims that declare you as the villain, that’s what your role in the situation has become. It’s best if you just take accountability for the intentional actions or simply be genuinely apologetic for the mistakes.


The only thing that keeps you playing the role of the villain is the desire to do harm or the avoidance of forgiving yourself for mistakes. Not forgiving yourself for mistakes or unintentional harmful acts causes you to merge with the role of the victim. Because either you’re a complete asshole and are perfectly comfortable being seen as such or you’re a really good person who just screwed up. There’s really no in between and people know that. Do what you’ve got to do to make things right, it’s as easy as that.


Now if you’ve got a box of facial tissues, a tub of guilt soaked food and an overly expensive cell phone bill from venting to your friends, you’re the victim. You’ve got a dog you need to bury, broken items you need to replace or a heavy debt to cover, either way you’ve got a difficult time ahead of you. In your mind, at these times there is one word that has become synonymous with life and that is “why?” If you find yourself asking that question every five minutes you’re either a 5 year old child or a very distraught adult (five year olds won’t be reading this book, though).


You can’t function; literally and mentally.


 – You can’t see; whether it’s the tears in your eyes or the inability to observe your present surroundings because you keep playing out the situation in your head. 


 – We already covered the deaf part earlier.


 – The sense of smell is obstructed by mucous and phlegm. That’s gross enough, so we’ll avoid further details.


 – If you try eating (which most people have trouble with during times of stress) taste will be disturbed as well. If you’re the type who overeats when times get rough, nothing will physically satisfy the mental void; it’ll fill that stomach up quick, but you won’t notice. Scientifically your olfactory nerve, connected to your sense of smell, plays a big role in taste, so nothing will seem the same. If you’re the kind of person that starves your problems away, then sense of taste means nothing, either way.


 – So, sight, sound, smell and taste are all covered, which leaves the sense of touch. Physical connection seems elusive to someone who feels disconnected from the world. Everything else you’ve endured has made you pretty much numb. It’s like when you get pricked again and again in the same spot, it just doesn’t bother you after a while. Don’t be mistaken though, the pain is still there, you’re just sick of giving it attention. Sensation is lost because the rest of you feels lost along with it; emphasis on feel.


You aren’t lost and life hasn’t gotten the better of you, it’s just something that happens from time to time… that’s it. It’s not because you were mean to that one kid in the fourth grade. It’s not because one star, a million miles from where you’re standing, moved 2 feet. It’s within your control, so take control. If wrong has been done, you must place the accountability where it is appropriate. You must learn to forgive even the harshest of acts. Wish the drunk driver who killed your relative would go to hell? Don’t worry, he’s in hell. He’s miserable and probably contemplating suicide at the very moment you’re wishing him dead. Does that really make you feel better? Why does the physical death of one have to lead to the emotional death of many? Let it go and forgive. You’re not trapped at the top of a tower waiting for someone to rescue you. You’re locked in a dungeon that you’re debating swallowing the key to. Let yourself out and let yourself live.


Now we present the ideal role, the victor. You took a few hits in the face and the gut. Or maybe you got the initial upper hand by punching an old bruise on your opponent. But before you threw in the towel or were called out for unsportsmanlike conduct, you got your head together. If you lost, you learned you’re able to keep fighting and if you won, you lifted your opponent from the mat and hugged them. Either way, you won.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Eve Bessendorf permalink
    March 12, 2010 11:39 PM

    hey Atlas, Is this your site? I really like what you wrote, and can identify with everything here. I have moved beyond, or should I say through a very disturbing childhood experience, and have come out the other end on fire!! I really appreciate your efforts on educating people, but I agree it is very hard for people to listen and to feel. It was that way for me and could not get out of the dungeon for 29 years! imagine that! I am at a point in my life when I am figuring out what really matters, and really how I can make a difference in this world. I am currently tossing around a few ideas and am ready to make my next move. Unfortunately, I feel like most of my ideas and efforts fall on deaf ears around here. Like my idea for a public rail system that covered all major roads east and west. accessible to all and affordable, would alleviate the need for oil and stop pollution and our dependence on the supply from foreign countries also would be a huge financial relief on the majority of people around here, prevent drunk driving and allow elderly to get around safely and easily. cars could be used out of area (in more remote places I suppose). It would take a huge shift in perceived goals in our community and a huge shift in financial efforts. also this would obliterate the need for road safety police. I see this as a major solution to a major problem and would solve things on both a small scale and on a larger political and environmental scale. anyway, this is just something I was thinking about tonight. peace and email me if you get a chance.

    SurrealEve (Creation/Destruction) what’s in a name?

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