As much as mistakes are heralded and lauded in each commencement speech from Harvard to Stanford, they seldom feel that way while you are free-falling out of control. Like when you lose your home. Or job. Or mother. Or marriage. Or health. The sensation of spinning is never a welcome sensation. Instead, we flail about trying to latch on to anything to prevent the inevitable broken bones we receive on impact; desperate to cling to every hope, false or otherwise, that eases us down.
But the truth is, as you lay for some time in the dust, you realize, you must rise again. You simply must. And eventually we do. We don our finest and face the disaster head on. Probably not at first, but if we survive the catastrophe, or for some, multiple catastrophes, we simply must stand. Personally, I am buoyed by Vince Lambardi’s words, “It does not matter how many times you get knocked down, but how many times you get up.” I guess you could say this has been my motto, and one that keeps me looking up and out, smiling, as I get my feet under me once again.
One way to remember that the glass is half full or that there is always lemonade to be made, even when all around it seems to be raining cats and dogs, is to dress for success. This I learned first hand, standing on the edge of my mother’s bed (so I could peer into her top drawers) as she dressed for a Saturday night. Those top drawers were the best ones as they contained colorful silk scarves and shiny trinkets in small boxes, and as my mother peered into the mirror to add her finishing touches I marveled at how a woman who minutes before was dashing about the yard with her hair in a ponytail could turn on a dime into a glam icon. Saturday night is not for staying in or eating ice cream from a container, oh no, it is for dancing and dining and glittering in the night with a table lit by the laughter of friends and family.
There is plenty to get back up for when you invite the world into yours, when you share your exuberance, and when you say yes to the party. This I learned from not only my mother, but her whole generation, who showed up at each other’s birthdays, and anniversaries, for baptisms and graduations, and in the end, funerals, and in doing so, built lasting communities in a way that many of us can only realize in faded photos. But, I suggest, be the pride and joy, raise a glass, salute the world, and live the life of Riley, high on the hog, even if you’re working 9 to 5, live the dream.
Don’t cry over spilt milk, instead, go have the time of your life, for there’s no time like the present, to go back to the drawing board and realize every cloud has a silver lining, at least once in a blue moon.