Do you have that friend that stupid happens to? I’m not talking about the reap what you sow kind of stupid. I’m talking about the you step out your front door to go to work when a raccoon jumps out from a bush and attacks your leg so you spend the whole morning in the ER getting rabies shots kind of stupid. A lot of people consider me that friend. Stupid just happens. I also have that friend. So when the two of us hang out, really stupid things happen. You know, like when you’re together because it’s her wedding day and you’re running late to the ceremony because some random town decides to have a random parade on a random day in August. Then you end up being 45 minutes late because you have to watch a procession of girl scouts, fire trucks and wiener dogs. Stupid.
Stupid seems to be following me around lately, so I’ve been thinking a lot about it. Of the people that I know who suffer from an inordinate amount of dumb things happening, the majority of them also tend to have serious things going on all the time. A child with a disability, a chronic illness, random surgeries, loved ones dying or some other such chronic stress is usually simmering underneath a barrage of random stupidity. They also tend to laugh at those little things that get thrown at them. Truly, though, how “little” is getting attacked by a raccoon or running late to your wedding? Most women would melt down at such a tragedy, but not my friend. In the face of all the other things that she’s dealt with, a rabies shot and a slightly postponed wedding is not the end of the world. Although it’s cliche, it does seem that the enormity of a situation truly is dependent upon how you respond to it.
Amidst what appears to be a never-ending slew of stuff happening, I find time to laugh at most of the situations. It’s a coping mechanism, I suppose. Otherwise, I think I’d just have a nervous breakdown. And although I sometimes find myself at the brink of doing that creepy laugh/cry thing that people in the movies do just prior to going on a killing spree, I am mostly put together. I’ve learned to compartmentalize things that happen in life. I’ve decided that everything falls into at least one of three categories.
- Stupid Things. These things are stupid and usually funny. These include things like getting locked in a chicken coop for 45 minutes on a dark, dreary night with no one around to hear you scream. Ask me how I know what this feels like…
- Tragic Things. These are usually not funny things. These include the death of a loved one, a loss of a job or some other jarring event in life.
- Life-Altering Things. These things necessitate a change in your daily routine.
I’ve found that sometimes these categories overlap. Recently my cat took a 25 mile trip in the undercarriage of our truck only to emerge completely unscathed. This is both stupid and life-altering. It’s stupid because it is. It’s life-altering because now every time my husband or I wants to leave the house, we have to do a cat check to make sure he’s not hiding in the undercarriage. My routine changed and it’s stupid.
I’ve also discovered that Tragic Things are not necessarily life-altering. My grandfather passed away recently. I miss him with all my heart and I love him beyond words; however, my daily life has not changed in the slightest. In addition, there are Tragic Things that temporarily alter life. My mother-in-law is currently at the end stage of cancer and we make the 45 minute trip at least once a day to help with her care. Life is different now, but eventually we will get back into our daily routine. We will grieve and be sad, but we will still have our routine.
The thing I think I have the biggest problem with is the truly life-altering stuff. My daughter recently developed severe food allergies and we’ve had to revamp how we cook, what we eat, where we eat and make sure that we carry an Epi-Pen everywhere. Life is different. It’s not funny or stupid. It’s not tragic because she’s going to live a normal, healthy life. It’s just a different life than we had three weeks ago. It’s stressful, but totally manageable.
I was talking to a friend about the insanity that I call my life and he said, “your life is so tragic.” I thought about it and I could not disagree more. It might be stressful, but for the most part it’s just changing all of the time. For me, that is not a tragedy. For him, it is a tragedy. Just like the person who would be devastated about being late to her wedding, my friend and I recorded the whole event and laughed. It’s a perspective thing.
Unbeknownst to me, one of the characteristics that keeps me upbeat is the ability to find the absurdity of a situation and just laugh. When stupid happens, that’s really all you can do. So when stupid happens to you, stand back and laugh!