Opinion: They can’t eat you


Sometimes bad things happen. Lives intersect and then drift apart. Careers shift from promising to oppressive. Our bodies age and come to fail us. Yes, it is a bummer. Yes, we are right to be angry about it. The bad guys aren’t supposed to win. But too often, they do. Effort is supposed to matter. But too often, it doesn’t. Regardless, we march on. What choice do we have? Even as we rage at some perceived cosmic unfairness, others are plodding along with precious little interest in our own personal drama. The longer we sit and pout, the longer it will take us to recover from the setback.

Once during a particularly troublesome negotiation over a business deal, I confronted significant financial and personal risk. My anxiety level was off the charts. The stress was clouding my decision-making and objectivity in working on the problem. Then at a particularly low point of self-doubt and self-loathing, a close advisor listened to the dire nature of my circumstance, agreed that I was definitely in the deep end of the pond, and looked me in the eye and said, “well, at least they can’t eat you.” The nonsensical remark caught me off-guard. Amused by my reaction, I guess, he went on to say, “I don’t think they can kill and eat your family either.”

He made a good point. To me, the scale of all life was confined to success or failure in a business transaction. I’d lost track of the very important fact that life is far bigger and riskier than I was admitting. So while my consternation was real, it was not the end for the road. I was lucky to live to fight another day. Sometimes bad things happen. Be angry. Be concerned. But take stock that we won’t be dinner.


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