Cogitating Powerlessness, Yet Again

If I were a mathematician, I would spend time formulating a theory about the correlation between powerlessness and hopelessness. Maybe someone already has and I just don’t know about it. And if someone has, it’s probably a good thing I don’t know about it; it would be too depressing.

 

Looking back, the times in my life when I was the most depressed were the moments when I felt the most hopeless, all because I could not control whatever was happening in my life to make me depressed. I could have repeated the old adage “the only thing you can control is your attitude” to myself until I had no breath left in me, but in the end it would not have helped. Some things just are not within our control.

 

We can build the best plans and take all the precautions we can imagine, and still there is risk simply in the fact that we choose to live, to get out of bed, to interact with our environment, society, the world. One minute you’re fine and the next minute you’re not, simply because you exist. A car accident. A house or apartment fire. A plane crash. A tornado or earthquake. One minute you’re holding your own and the next minute tragedy strikes in the form of a stroke or heart attack, a diagnosis of cancer, or MS or HIV or on and on. Maybe it’s not you; maybe it’s your spouse, or your child.

 

Such events suck the breath and life right out of a person, and yet, some people survive. Pancreatic cancer is a death sentence and yet statistics show there is a 6% survival rate. Heart attacks that happen outside of a hospital setting have a 9% survival rate. Every day thousands of people survive car accidents. Despite being hit by the proverbial bus, people do survive.

 

In the face of adversity, when hope is so slim it can’t be seen with the naked eye, when not a single thing is within one’s power, where does that ounce of survival DNA come from and how does it grow and expand? What gene allows one training athlete to fall down a hundred times and get up a hundred and one, yet cause another to lay down and die? What is it about the character of one person struggling through despair who manages to smile once in a while, when another cannot find a single person to reach out to for encouragement? How can one person see only a dead end in the road, but another can see a fence to climb or a tree limb to grab hold of and propel to another path?

 

Don’t fret; I’m fine. Just cogitating.

 

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