The funny thing is, I can’t even remember what the crisis was, but I do remember clearly how upset I felt. I even remember where the conversation took place. I was in my early teens, and we were standing in the front hallway of my childhood home. I was in tears of rage and distress about I don’t know what, when my mother turned to me with the quiet advice that when she was going through an upsetting experience, she followed her mother’s advice to focus on the thought: “This too shall pass.”
I remember that in the moment I did not find this wisdom especially helpful.
Actually, I remember that I was sufficiently angry with her that it temporarily took my mind off the original upset. I was insulted. It seemed to me that she was dismissing my distress as something irrelevant– that I shouldn’t be feeling upset about the thing that was upsetting me. It took me a long time to understand what she was really telling me. Decades, in fact.
When I was young, the end of the world was always just around the corner. Every setback and disappointment was a catastrophe of epic proportions, even though at that point in my life the setbacks were pretty minor compared with what I would eventually encounter.
I have had my share of crisis and catastrophe over the four decades since receiving my mom’s advice. And it turns out Mom was right. It all passes. Even when there have been lasting repercussions of the crisis at hand, the actual crisis state always passes into some new sort of equilibrium.
It took me well into my 40’s to comprehend the wisdom of This too shall pass. And it’s only now, in my mid-50’s, that I am able to say with any conviction that I am learning to actually live it. Learning. I may never master it.
But I can say that each time I have made it safely through to another rainbow, it becomes a tiny bit less daunting to walk into the next storm.
“And once the storm is over, you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about.” –Haruki Murakami