Connecting the dots is about perspective. Connect more dots and you have a better chance of getting a true, helpful perspective. False, unhelpful perspectives make life lots harder.
I’m for easier
Most of your dots are from your own life. Many years ago, when I was first married, I was an alcoholic, separated from God, with no education or ambition. I was unemployed for long stretches. But those days taught me something I’ve always remembered: “Having no job and no money will not kill you.” (You can read about this phase of my life in From Beer to Eternity).
This influences how fearful I am of the present and future. I’ve connected the dots from the past to now; I’ve already had those kinds of big problems and survived.
Like I said yesterday, all your dots don’t have to be from your own life. You always have a built in reservoir of dots to make today look smaller and more manageable. That reservoir of dots is called HISTORY.
Right now the only history you know personally is during your own lifetime. Your expectation of today can only be based on what you know.
But knowing history gives you more dots.
So lets pretend
Let’s pretend that when you were a kid or young adult, you lived through a once-in-a-century crisis that lasted fifteen years.
You saw 1,300 banks close. You saw 1 of 4 Americans earning NO income–zero, nada, zip. And for those who had jobs there was no minimum wage and no limits on how many hours your boss could make you work. Large groups of homeless, unemployed men drifted around the country.
A horrible drought and crop failures destroyed thousands of family farms in the middle of America; 2.5 million people left their homes and farms. Giant dust storms blew dirt clouds from the Great Plains as far as Chicago (where dirt fell like snow) and even to New York City.
It gets worse.
Then America fought TWO wars, one in Europe and one against Japan. At the same time.
One dictator’s goal was to take over the world. Millions of people were murdered, apart from war, just because of their religion. Another dictator killed millions of his own people (and he was on our side).
After Pearl Harbor, Americans cancelled their plans–marriage, family, college, career–everything was on hold. Twelve million Americans (almost 1 in 11 of every man, woman, child) were in the military.
In three months on one island during WW2 (Okinawa), 12,000 Americans were killed. On Iwo Jima 6,000 died in one month. (Wikipedia says about 5,000 U.S. soldiers have died in the War on Terror in eleven years).
You lived with confusion and uncertainty and fear and war and depression, and you lived it for fifteen straight years. And you survived to thrive and raise a family and own a home and business.
Now what are you afraid of?
If this was part of your personal past, how might it influence your fears and expectations for “these troubled days we live in” today?
Would today seem a little lighter?
Of course there are serious things to deal with today. But would the effect and personal weight of these serious things be different if you had those dots to connect?
You do have those dots.
Those things happened. You have 80- and 90-year-old family members and neighbors who can tell you about it. If they don’t, I just did.
And you can read books.
What have you survived that can make you less fearful of today and tomorrow?
This is Day 17 of 31 Days of Connecting the Dots: make more sense of your life, your world, your hopes and dreams. Subscribe on the right or below and each day will be delivered every morning to your inbox. Visit the Nester to choose from over 1,200 more 31 Dayers.