It’s the response that matters

It’s the response that matters

It was a tradition of sorts.

In the initial months following my diagnosis, after each doctor’s appointment, I would go to the bar

Given my deteriorating health, a few pints, and a plate of fried pickles was not the most constructive response, but sometimes nothing soothes a fractured soul like the warm panel walls, a friendly jukebox, and the libations of a comfy corner bar.

I remember sitting with Cindy and my parents and two brothers, talking through the details of my appointment in low, weighty voices.

We had drinks and ate deep fried vegetables and to snap the tension, someone would say something funny and we’d laugh, but not too loud. Because, this was not the time for laughing loud.  This was a time to make sense of bad news.

I can still hear the hallow clinks of pint glasses as I found things to do with my hands– bending coasters, tearing bar napkins into confetti–and feeling helpless, hopeless, and powerless. Like sitting in the last pew at my own funeral.

For awhile I believed there was nothing I could do. It was final–I was stricken with some rare disease. My brain was deteriorating, Period.

If our language confirms what we believe, relying on the phrase “it’s not fair…” cements the world’s oldest lie, which according to a personal favorite–The Alchemist is:

At a certain point in our lives, we lose control of what’s happening to us, and our lives become controlled by fate. That’s the world’s greatest lie.”~ Paulo Coelho

A few years ago, a student suggested I start a blog.


Because sometimes you say interesting things in class.


Yeah, sometimes.

Not to go all Hollywood here, but in some serious ways this blog, saved my life.

Because it’s here, with you, I learned it’s not the bad news that matters– it’s our response that does.

Our self-victimization pushes people away and they lose patience and tune us out. Our self-pity sours to their apathy.

And by lamenting bad news, we only empower bad news.

Being trapped by bad news is not a fate. Yes, bad news hurts. When toweled in bad news it’s hard to see any light. Often, bad news delivers what seems a death blow.

But like good news, bad news is charged with energy– an energy you can either use for triumphing over fate or submitting to it.

And plus, when the jukebox sings, when our elbows kiss the bar–self-victimizers make for uninspiring drinking partners.

Be well,


An excerpt from the previous post: What we value = what we endure

What we value is responsible for the life we lead. For the conditions that confront us, for the conditions we endure.

Our values must be compromised by our children, by our spouse, by our government, by our society. Because by such compromise, we learn about ourselves. We learn if our values have merit and substance.

We learn whether our values are worth fighting for.

Life favors the brave. Subscribe and receive my weekly stories, encouragement, and positive messages to motivate you to improve your life, take positive risks, and help to rekindle your happiness and joy.