On March 10th, this article was published in The Atlantic titled “Cancel Everything.” Eventually there were more and more lists of things that were cancelled and emails upon emails announcing cancellations. But then, came the many euphemisms in an attempt to disguise the reality of just how much our plans needed to change and just how little we are really in control.
A friend of mine reflected on this to me the other day basically musing: “Why is it so hard for people to just say and accept that things are cancelled?”
And this reminded me of all the times my mother said to me growing up, “Amanda, you need to learn how to handle disappointment.”
I’m also reminded of a video circulating on social media in which a father is speaking about his 12-year-old son who recently committed suicide. He begins his video saying: “I heard someone say, ‘Well, it’s like summer for these kids.’ No, it’s not like summer for these kids. It’s just not. Anybody that says that is an idiot. This is not summer. You have parents who are stressed out because they lost their job – that’s not like summer. You’ve got kids who have have no intereraction with their friends except through Fortnite and FaceTime – that’s not like summer…”
As children’s summer camps begin to get cancelled, this made me think about how important it can be to be very direct and honest with children (and with adults) about the reality of cancelled plans because this is how we can first recognize the disappointment as a legitimate experience and then figure out how to handle it.
Pretending like nothing ever gets cancelled, that things don’t ever not go our way, or that life doesn’t ever send us circumstances beyond our control is not the way to learn to embrace reality.
This matters because most spiritual disorders – from personal sins to dehumanizing ideologies – are usually connected with non-recognition of reality.
May we, in the words of Michelangelo, wish to want what eludes our will. It’s good for us.