That's Life: The day your life changes


Oh for the sweet age of innocence when we first discovered love. It was an entirely new feeling.

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“If your daily life seems poor, do not blame it; blame yourself that you are not poet enough to call forth its riches; for the Creator, there is no poverty.” Rainer Maria Rilke

Oh for the sweet age of innocence when we first discovered love. It was an entirely new feeling. That swirling in your stomach like you were about to get diarrhoea, the quickening of the heart when you had not been running or the tongue that tied when you beheld your heart’s desire.

In that sweet age of innocence, we became poets, putting into words what we felt but struggled to convey, believing no one else had ever been so afflicted by cupid’s arrow.

Those poems, some were delivered, and others remained hidden in the pages of exercise books bought for our education by well-meaning parents. Those who struggled to pen a few rhymes bought them for a fee from others, like yours truly.

Still, others plagiarised them from popular love songs. The only way to do it back then was to sit with pen and paper, rewind the love song on the cassette player trying to capture what the musician was expressing.

Those words were then transferred to a letter, scented with your perfume and sealed with a kiss.

Fast forward. We no longer write poems. In fact, we rarely even read them. Life had a way of disabusing us of our literary ambitions. Cynical parents and teachers insisted that love and poetry did not put food on the table.

And so we put away our pen and paper, getting involved in the very real business of making a living. When things got tough, we got tougher, not poetic. Yet, looking at the state of the world today, that turns our stomachs and gives us palpitations, if we ever needed our poetic skills, it is probably now.

The Holy Book says, “As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease.” Winters or difficult seasons are cyclical. They come around a couple of times in one’s lifetime. Winters can be economic, health, relationship or mental challenges. They happen to us all even though when we are going through a personal winter, we feel alone and especially targeted. If winters are cyclical, so are spring and summers, our seasons of prosperity, abundance and ease. When in those moments, we may be lulled into thinking that they will never end.

It is the nature of life and the best you can do is become a poet, as Rainer Maria Rilke advises. Call forth the riches in your life, especially those opportunities that present themselves during your spring. When the season changes avoid the temptation to feel sorry for yourself, complain or make excuses. Refuse to become a victim. Instead, take a breather when you need to and continue to create in the chaos.

Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl writes in Man’s Search for Meaning, “The last of the human freedoms,” is to “choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way.” Regardless of what else is happening in our environment, we can change our lives by changing ourselves and in so doing, recreating our world.