When I lived in New York, one of the perks was getting to witness the city’s star power. It’s home to the Met Gala, numerous award shows and the iconic New York Fashion Week. You might consider yourself a realist, writing off these events along with the ones broadcasted on TV as fake and scripted. I don’t disagree, but there’s one reason to love these shows aside from the fashion and glam. Look at how the models and celebs handle themselves when the agenda doesn’t go as planned and watch how they move forward.
The show must go on, even with hitches. Once in a while, an actor or actress on stage accepting an award experiences a technical difficulty. A movie star trips on the red carpet or a model falls head over heels on the runway or experiences a wardrobe malfunction. Of course I don’t want to see these things happen to them, but I watch how they come back from their snafus and how they move forward.
I admire those who handle that embarrassing moment with grace and dignity. The tabloids and social media will savagely pick them apart but these celebrities don’t let the negativity define them. They go off to shoot their next film or they go on talk shows to laugh with the host and plug a new book.
You might be wondering, how does this story relate to me? I’m not rich and famous. My point is, we’re all imperfect human beings no matter our level of power and wealth and unfortunate situations big and small are the reality we all face. It’s not that we fall down that matters, it’s that we learn how to get back up after the fall.
We may not have a choice as to what happens to us but we always have a choice as to how we react. This is the message of Dr. Edith Eva Eger, holocaust survivor, psychologist and author of The Choice. If you’re looking for a good read, this is a book I highly recommend. Dr. Eger is an inspiration as she points out that despite her time in Auschwitz, she does not let that past define her. She does not see herself as a victim because she chooses not to make what she has lived through her identity.
In a previous blog post I talk about learning from our pain and it connects to Eger’s concept of letting go of the victim mentality. When we surrender to victimhood, we’re not able to find a meaning within our pain and suffering. We’re stuck in the prison of our past and we avoid the opportunity to discover the power within ourselves.
Another one of my favorite authors, Ron Zeller who wrote the book Aging or Ageless, is another believer in the concept that we always have a choice. Zeller talks about the amazing power of our own mind. Too often we play the victim card because we doubt our own mental strength. One of the points he makes is that you can rise above any circumstances.
Life is not about wishing it could be some other way, life is about having the strength to acknowledge what is happening exactly in this present moment. This is it – life is NOW, not yesterday, not tomorrow, but right now, exactly as it is unfolding. If we don’t like what has unfolded we have a choice as to how we will pick ourselves up and move forward. In Latin, there’s a phrase that describes an attitude in which one sees everything that happens in one's life, the good, the bad and the ugly with unconditional acceptance. Amor Fati translates to the love of one’s fate. It means loving one’s pain, embracing one’s suffering and closing the separation between one’s desires and reality not by striving for more desires, but by simply desiring reality.
When we apply the Amor Fati philosophy to our own lives, we see that everything that happens is a gift – it sheds light on what is not in alignment, what is lacking in integrity, what was in the dark and needed attention. As disappointing as heartache and devastation are, they are also a gift. They are the gift of clarity as to where we need to pivot, where we need to pause and where we need to make plans as to how to move forward.
Instead of focusing on the fall, let’s start applying Amor Fati and concentrating on what happens afterwards. How do you move forward towards your True North? Do you embrace the lessons learned from that pain? How would you define yourself as you get up and dust yourself off? Do you play the role of the victim or do you prevail as the comeback kid?
With all my soul,