When we’re handed one of life’s many hand grenades or we’re sentenced to a lifetime affliction, it can feel like an absolute curse with no upside. But strangely, life tends to hand us exactly what we need in the strangest packaging.
Whether you see it shortly after or not for several years until you look in the rearview, in a lot of cases the bigger the curse, the greater the blessing in the end, if you’re willing to see it.
In the fall of 2001, I was all of 17 years old — the same month as 9/11 — and was stranded on the living room couch with a strange health condition that was difficult for doctors to pinpoint. At first, they thought it was prostate cancer, an odd diagnosis for a kid in high school, but after an investigatory operation, they finally narrowed it down to a strange and lesser-known bladder disease.
I bring this up because I remember waking up in my hospital room to my mother crying, clearly upset that her baby boy was going through some tough adult stuff. The doctor proceeded to lay out my new acidic-free diet — basically chicken, white sauce and pear juice for two years — that seemed like the worst punishment for a kid who loved his school cafeteria menu of Cherry Coke, pizza and breadsticks every day. Chicken quickly became my least favorite thing in the world and the lack of red sauce on everything made me pine for a life I’d barely known. It seemed like hell.
The Blessing in Every Curse
What was a bit wild and unexpected was that I didn’t appreciate my situation until I was well into my 20s.
Had I not gone through that seemingly terrible scenario, I would never have gotten my act together when it came to making my own meals. When you’re tall and skinny with the highest metabolism around — I still don’t have an ass to speak of — people tend to think you can eat like an irresponsible prick and never see negative results.
But by the time I was 25, I had long graduated that plain Jane, flavorless diet and moved into exciting new realms of ‘hot sauce-glugging, whiskey-swashbuckling, beer-bonging, post-college salad-free’ days that landed my right back in the hornet’s nest of acidic regret, more or less the 2.0 of bladder disease. That on top of a steady cappuccino morning routine mixed with mounting stress and I was an absolute wreck. Again, I had to regroup and straightening myself out.
Justin Baldoni on Quarantine Anxiety: Look For the Light
Had it not been for that eye-opening experience, I wouldn’t have further my knowledge into what acidity does to the body, what constant carbs and carbonation can do to even the skinniest of young men and how to handle my stress and anger. Just because I was skinny at 25 didn’t mean I didn’t feel like hell.
I got into yoga, started reading metaphysical and learned to cook clean and healthy. I was a better person because of the hardship. At 35, I’m happy to say I’m much healthier and happier than I was at 25.
Let Love Heal
We’ve all experienced loss, whether it’s related to someone we knew, someone we love or something we loved to do. But without loss, we wouldn’t have the blessing of understanding what matters most to us. And without having had those things in the first place, we’d be half the men we’ve come to be.
We have to learn to lead with love and live in it if we are to continue finding diamonds in the rough, otherwise, life may be a never-ending miserable experiment.
As you move through this life and get pelted by painful moments and heavy losses that feel like massive curses, hold onto hope that at some point — it might be tomorrow, it might be your last day on Earth — these “curses” will appear as important lessons that were crucial to moving us towards being better individuals. If we’re lucky, our inability to count our blessings will one day be our greatest affliction.
Man Enough Spotlight: Dax Shepard Confesses to Opioid Addiction With Sincere Love Letter
Even just in the past three months, I herniated and tore a disc in my lower back while painting. The pain was so unbearable — imagine getting stabbed in the leg out of the blue throughout your day with no end in sight — that I, once again, wondered what I did to deserve such horror in my life. I struggled to work, and my mood and morale suffered extensively.
But after being down with no hope in the past, I was quicker to see the silver lining — I would never better my body, my posture, stretch and work out as often as I should if I had not been hit with such pain. I would be a crippled old man with a miserable end to his life. Yet another curse becomes a blessing in disguise.
All it takes is a little perspective.
What curse are you letting dominate your life that could really be sunrays stuck behind rainclouds?
Cover: Prostudio-stock (Envato Elements)
For more ways to be a better man and human, head to Man Enough.