Host Garrison Keillor answers your questions about life, love, writing, authors, and of course, A Prairie Home Companion.
Send GK Your Question »
Dealing with Disappointment
April 23, 2010 |
Post to the Host:
How do you deal with disappointment? When your pantry is bare and all your socks have holes, how can you remind yourself that it will be good again?
It's different when you're young than if you're old, and who knows where the dividing line is. I scraped bottom a couple times when I was in my twenties, including the summer of 1966 when I was afraid of going to prison for refusing induction into the Army and was drifting unprepared into marriage full of trepidation and felt that my life was on the rocks.
I went to New York to try to write a try-out piece for The New Yorker and stayed in a rooming house on West 19th Street that was full of mental patients doped up on Thorazine. A hot summer, no money, disaster staring me in the face, and yet I remember a certain buoyancy possessing me, walking around Manhattan with long loping strides, which is the true spirit of youth. A cliché but true. Were I to be in that same situation today, at age 67, it might very well kill me.
It's good to have heroes who can help pull you through disappointment. Nelson Mandela in prison all those years. Emily Dickinson locked in with her mother and sister. Thoreau, despondent after the death of his beloved brother, John. FDR hiding his crippled legs, grinning as he muscled his way to the podium. But in the end you depend on some inner resilience that in good times you don't know is there. We all resist self-pity, which is boring and leads nowhere.
We are like plants, drawn toward sunshine, wanting to burgeon and be fruitful and do good. If a rock falls on us, we find a way to push around it and head up into the light. And it helps to take the short view. Day by day, hour by hour, just do your best and get your rest. Good luck.