As a child, I ran away from home several times. With nine of us, and rules, getting along at home appeared to be a real “hardship.” It got to the point that when I threatened to run away, Mom would say, “Make sure you are home in time for dinner.” It never failed that a couple hours after I’d left, the place where I ended up was much less comfortable. So I would retreat back to Home Sweet Home. Young and restless, to fix my world, I had to learn to love where I was, instead of some fairy tale place I dreamed of.
Jon Kabat-Zinn, in his book “Wherever You Go, There You Are,” stated: “For men and women alike, we must be willing to encounter darkness and despair when they come up and face them, over and over again, if need be. Life’s journey is a path between birth and death, a human life lived. No one escapes the adventure. We only look at and deal with it differently.”
There is a story about a little boy who had a dad who loved him very much. Every day after work, the dad would come home and play with the little boy. One night, while the dad was at work, he realized that he had extra work that needed tending to that evening. Not able to play, he wanted to give the boy something to keep him busy. Looking around his office, he saw a magazine with a large map of the world on the cover and got an idea. He removed the map, patiently tore it up into small pieces then put all the pieces in his coat pocket. Surely this would keep the child busy for hours, he thought.
When he got home, the little boy ran to him ready to play. The man explained that he had extra work to do and couldn’t play just then, but he had a surprise. He led the little boy into the dining room, took out all the pieces of the map and spread them on the table. He explained that it was a map of the world, and said, “By the time you put it back together, my extra work will be finished, and we can play.”
About half an hour later, the boy stood by his dad and said, “It’s finished; can we play now?” Surprised, the dad said, “Let’s go see.” Sure enough, there was the picture of the world, all put together, every piece in its place.
The dad said, “That’s amazing! How did you do that?” The boy replied, “It was simple. On the back of the page was a picture of a man. When I put the man together, the whole world fell into place.”
Piecing together my world, two of the best lessons I learned from my father, Jack Lang, were:
- You must forgive those who have done you wrong, as bitterness is too hard on the soul and will tear your world apart from within, and
- Be careful not to burn bridges with the people you associate with in your life, for you never know when you will need them in the future. You can make your life easier keeping bridges open to cross at a later date.
We all have choices to make that will shape our world. You can choose to hate the place you live, or love it. You can choose to hate your job, or love it. You can choose to hate waking up each morning, or love it. You can choose to hate the person in your last relationship, or love him or her. Even if that person left you, you still have the choice to love or hate. Once you choose to love, instead of hate, you fix your world.
Getting angry over trivial things, or spending your time wishing you were somewhere else, will only drag you down. Avoid negative thoughts about where you are, who you are, your job, and the relationships you have. For others to follow your lead, you must be whole and happy. To quote William Arthur Ward, “Happiness is an inside job.” Happiness develops when we maintain positive thoughts, emotions and relationships with others.
Learning to love my current home, job, life and relationships is no different from when, as a boy, I learned as I slipped back in the door into the crowded kitchen, to love where I was. I know I can’t run away from any of it, including and in spite of times of hardships. If I did run away, just like way back when, whether it was within hours, days or perhaps months, I would realize that the place I ended up was much less comfortable than Home Sweet Home. Fix yourself, and you fix the world!