Being of good cheer is something I have often found difficult to do in my life. I’ve been through some very dark, depressing times (mainly graduate school). I have even been to edge of complete despair. I have found it beneficial when things seem very dark, to take a long step back, take a look at the big picture, and to count one’s blessings.
For one, things could always be (and have been) much worse.
A Trip to the Past
Growing up, my childhood wasn’t exactly tip-top. The major downer of the whole time period was that my parents would constantly fight – shouting, screaming, profanity, and threatening each other. And these were two people that (allegedly) swore before God Almighty to love each other. Our house held a constant atmosphere of tension, like I was living inside Checkpoint Charlie.
The problem person in this whole mess was my father. He was, as I now recognize, mentally ill, and probably in need of medication. He was given to tremendous mood swings, and would turn on you in an instant for no reason. He was at his worst when the news was on – I hated it whenever he’d watch the news. The news only fed his anger, which he would take out on his family. His mental problems, and bone-deep hatred of anyone who didn’t think the way he did, made him utterly unemployable. For the near entirety of my home life, my father never had a job. Needless to say, this caused many fights between my mom and him. My mom pretty much carried the whole family, at tremendous personal sacrifice. My dad never contributed a dime to our college educations (for vicarious reasons, he wanted my brother and me to join the Army).
And unlike any other person I have ever met, he relished in being angry. We have all met angry people in our lives, but I have met no one who could get as angry as my father. The closest approximation to him I have only seen in film, and that is Nick Nolte’s character in “The Thin Red Line”:
He died in 2011, the same angry, miserable, wreck of a man he’d always been. He wasted the last 15 years of his life as a shut-in, watching the news all day, fruitlessly calling his congressmen, and terrorizing my mother. As cruel as it sounds, I was glad when he died. I was finally rid of him, and I could finally have peace.
But despite the shortcomings of my youth, I can still count many blessings. I grew up in a home, with a roof over my head, with running water and electricity. There was no want of food, and I was educated at taxpayer expense. Everything I just mentioned does not exist in the Third World, except for the ultra-rich.
Nonetheless, I am very glad that period of my life is over.
Bad Childhood, Meet Worse Childhood
While my childhood was less than ideal, it was better than most. It is a sad observation that most of the world’s children grow up living disgusting, regrettable lives. As an example, observe my previous post on the sexual deviants of Central Asia. As I wrote:
“Meanwhile, the poor street children of Pakistan are reduced to selling their rear ends to sodomites in exchange for cricket bats, and getting high off glue to stun themselves of the misery of their pointless, tortured lives.”
Central Asia is hardly the only place where life is bleak. Children in sub-Saharan Africa grow up with little prospect for improving any aspect of their lives, as most of their countries boast a very low average IQ, are devoid of technological progress, and are run by corrupt despots that have looted what little existed of their economies in the first place.
Tragedy begets tragedy.
15 Years Ago vs. Now
Fifteen years ago:
- I was just a freshman in high school.
- I didn’t know shit about shit.
- My parents were always fighting, making it dreadful to go home.
- My father was an abusive whacko, and a failure in life.
- My brother had gone to college, so I was all alone.
But things have improved with time. I now have a valuable engineering degree from a prestigious university. I have a respectable job, make a decent wage, and live in relative comfort. As sad as it is to say, my father has passed away, which has greatly improved my life.
Not only do I have a good life now, I have a bright future ahead of me.
- I am financially secure, unlike legions of Americans (as well as many of my classmates from high school).
- I am saving aggressively for retirement.
- I have a modest student loan balance, and I don’t have to worry about crushing student loan debt, which currently totals $1.2 trillion and averages out to $35,000.
- My family doesn’t have much of a history of late-life diseases or ailments.
- When I die, as a Christian, I believe I will ascend to heaven and dwell in the house of the Lord forever. That thought tends to help put a lot of perspective when the nagging details of this life start to grind on me. So the thinking goes, I will have eternal life. What’s not to love about that?
In light of what I have written here, I suppose the best advice I can give to someone going through hard times is to hold on. Things do get better with time – I am proof of it. I went in a mere 15 years time being a fearful 15 year old boy, afraid of his good-for-nothing father, to being a respected engineering professional, working a good job, living in peace, and making good money. A few words of parting advice:
- Nothing worth having in life comes easily or quickly – it’s rarity is what gives it its worth.
- Get away from toxic people – flee from their wicked, foolish ways.
- Graduate school for me was a bitter ordeal – but that too, eventually came to a (welcome) end. No matter how hard something gets, rest assured it will not last forever.
- Have nothing to do with idiots – they will drag you down with them.
- Try reading the Book of Proverbs some time. I found that to be an enlightening, relaxing read.
- And for that matter, read the Book of Job while you’re at it. Like I said – things could always be worse. And for Job, things certainly did get worse and worse.