You are either the stick in the mud - unmoving or you are the flow of water
that goes around the stick to get to where it needs to be.
One never really pays attention to their hands and the multitude of tasks they do every day, well that is, until you can't actually use one of them. Because of the damage, I had to keep my finger all wrapped up like a mummy, couldn't get it wet, couldn't bend it, and had to keep it above my heart or it would throb like I had whacked it with a hammer for good measure. But being me, which means not asking for help, I figured out ways to accomplish things like tying my sneakers and making coffee.
Once I got the nerve up, I decided to take a shower. It was hilarious. With my hand ensconced in two plastic bags and duct tape around the bags at my wrist, I made it work. Wasn't pretty, sure as hell wasn't easy, but with some Yankee ingenuity, I got clean. It was afterwards that I got to thinking about all the times throughout my life I had to think outside-the-box, had to change and adapt, in order to make life work for me instead of against me.
The lesson here, aside from the obvious, was adaptation. I had things to do and accomplish. Doing it the normal way wasn't possible any more. I had to change the way I went about life in order to get the results I needed. I had to not only change my actions but my thinking as well. I had to look for new ways to accomplish what I needed to. I had to adapt. It struck me while I was in the shower, with the bag over my hand - while there may be no winner-takes-all secret to a happy life, but becoming adept at adapting to new circumstances, may just be the biggest key to happiness I had found as of yet.
Life happens whether you are ready for it or not. Sometimes, it only takes a split second, and you are suddenly plunged into something you were not at all prepared for. You either go into denial, shut down, ignore what you don't want to see, or you adapt. It is not always as simple as learning to wash your hair one-handed. Sometimes you need to learn a whole new skill set, such as becoming a single parent or losing someone integral to your existence and having to learn to function without them, as can being diagnosed with an illness or physical limitation send someone reeling. Our existence becomes different. Priorities and circumstances can change and you either have to adapt and think outside-the-box to get to where you need to be or stay where you are and slowly lose control.
Change your thinking, change your life. Become stuck, drift through life never touching shore, never feeling firmly planted.
I remember back in 2010 when I lost my grandmother. I had been doing end-of-life care for the better part of a year for her. Starting with simply making her meals and making sure she ate and took her medications. As time progressed and her health worsened, there was so much more to do for her. The last three or four weeks of her life, she was my only concern. I adapted because she needed me. It was an intense period of time. After she passed, I remember standing in the kitchen, completely at a loss as to what to do. I was exhausted and broken hearted. I had not only just lost my best friend, but I had also lost my routine. I would get up with her. I would see to her. Every moment my focus was on her. With her gone - there was nothing to fill those hours.
I had to adapt. I had to take time to grieve and refuel not only my body and mind, but my soul. There was a big gaping hole in my heart. It didn't take me long to realize getting lost in that hole would be far easier than I wanted to admit to. I had to make sure I honored her by not giving in to the darkness. She had taught me better. I had to adapt. I had to rediscover my normal.
Needless to say, there were nights when I would still make a dinner plate for her, only to get half way down the hallway before I remembered the stark truth. She was no longer there. Habits and routines are hard to break. We become so enmeshed in life that when something breaks, we easily could spin-out and completely lose all traction.
Learn to work with what you have, while constantly striving to better. Stop fighting your circumstances and learn to make them work for you. Every time you get frustrated or hit a dead-end, change perspective. Stand on your head if you have to. Stop thinking so linear. More often than not - getting to where you want to be is never a straight line. How boring. No, more often than not, getting to your happy involves mountains, dirt roads, twists and turns, potholes and more. Lose the rigidness and learn to bend.
Sometimes you have to color outside the lines. Sometimes you need to get lost, in order to be found. Sometimes what seems impossible, is only a change in perception away from possible. Don't let fear guide your footsteps or close your heart. Honor your life, honor your story, and adapt.
It may not be the singular key to happiness. But, it's a big one. It is also a key you already have inside of you. Find your courage. Start small and make your circumstances work for you. Life will only beat you if you let it. Don't let it. You are either the stick in the mud - unmoving or you are the flow of water that goes around the stick to get to where it needs to be. It simply makes a change and adapts. You can too.