The world seems to be filled with blame these days. I regularly hear the chorus of “oh, whoa is me, life is so unfair” out there.
I guess that’s because it’s the easiest thing to do; blame others for all your problems in life. There are those white folks who blame the Hispanics or the blacks for their problems. Others blame the illegal immigrants or Muslims. Old blame the young. The young blame the old. Democrats blame the Republicans, the Republicans the Democrats.
But the sad truth is, the blame lies not in others, but in ourselves. It’s is a hard pill to swallow, I know. Certainly, I have been choking on this bitter pill for the better part of three decades now. Whenever things went awry in life, I’d blame someone else, anyone else.
Of course, I readily took credit for any good fortune that came my way. I credited that to talent, perseverance, drive and skill. When good things happened, it was because I made it happen.
But the bad? It was never my fault. How could it be? I was always a victim, not the instigator.
As we all know, or come to know, life is made up of a constant stream of choices. Little things like what we’re going to wear to work or what we’re going to have for lunch. And the big things, like who we are going to marry, what job we’ll take and where we will live.
What’s funny about these choices – large or small – is that they can quickly send us spiraling down a rabbit hole out of control, as things seem to go from bad to worse. As they do, we make more choices in a desperate attempt to avoid bottoming out. The bottom may actually be the place we actually need to go, but we’re too frightened to go there so we go into damage control mode, trying to avoid the inevitable by any means possible.
I use my Florida experience a lot in my RobZerrvations, but it is a classic example of this principle in action.
My marriage in Seattle was going through a rough period. Instead of picking up the pieces of my life and moving on, I chose to the emergency exit, abandoning all I knew to be with someone I barely knew.
Wait, I haven’t gotten to the rabbit hole part yet. I actually knew quite quickly that this whole Florida idea was a bad decision from the get-go. But since I had already decided to take this road, I was going to stay on it come hell or high water. One bad decision (marry the stranger) was followed by another (stay in Florida after it all came crashing down).
I was afraid to take a headfirst dive into the rabbit hole that was awaiting me. Instead, I chose to live in a house of mirrors rather hit bottom, admit my mistake and move back to Seattle, tail between my legs, admitting to my friends that it was one of the stupidest things I’ve ever done in my life.
This refusal to head down the rabbit hole led to my first thoughts of suicide. Brief as they were, it made me realize that I was afraid of bottoming out. I was like a swimmer who was floundering in an undertow. I fought the desire to go with the flow, fighting instead to stay afloat at all costs, but eventually thinking that drowning may not be so bad after all.
Up until that time I had been blaming everyone but myself for this comedy of errors. I certainly blamed the stranger I had given up my life to be with. And to think there was a time when I boldly proclaimed that I could never imagine life without her in it.
And now here I am, trying to imagine a time when we were ever together, even a single event that wasn’t pure torture or a total waste of time and spirit. It’s all because I finally took the blame for the whole string of events, the entire sad comedy of errors, played by a total fool.
I admit that it’s hard to look in the mirror and see only yourself, realizing that you’re clearly to blame for your misfortune or the disastrous turn of events unfolding before your eyes. It would be far easier to stay on the blame train express and let it keep chugging on down the line.
But this brings no resolution. Until you accept the fact that every action in your life has a an inevitable result, good or bad, you can’t move forward. It’s the old definition of insanity – you keep doing the same thing over and over and expect a different result: That brick wall refuses to crumble and fall.
Believe me, blaming this or that on some exterior force is a total waste of energy and spirit because it doesn’t change a thing.
Case in point: Blaming other countries or immigrants for the fact that your job is no longer relevant. Really? Perhaps you just weren’t paying attention at where the jobs were going and didn’t make the jump to learn something new when the first round of layoffs started happening or the mill across town closed down because of a damned spotted owl.
This is not delivered without sympathy. I have been there several times over the years. I’ve had to reinvent myself and my life time and time again. At the age of 54, I had to start over completely, giving up another house, a car and a livelihood. I had to move 3,000 miles back home at the cost of almost $7,000, tuck that tail between my legs, re-enter the working world of bosses and long commutes, and eat a lot of crow with friends who had every right to say “I told you so,” but chose not to.
Sure, you can go ahead and blame the others or the entire world for your problems. But if you do it around me, know that my nodding head and my look of concern may be bogus, because I may be doing everything I can to keep from blurting out, “But did you ever think of taking the blame for your situation?”
We are all ultimately responsible for our own actions good and bad. Be a grown up. Own up to them. Admit that you may have made mistakes or chose the wrong path. Life has a funny way of forgiving the fool who admits the errors of his ways and seeks guidance. I, my friend, am the poster child of proof!
In the Emerald City, no longer trapped in that house of mirrors with the burned out Exit sign,