I woke up this morning with this much-quoted proverb in my head. This is normal by the way – I often wake up with a song, a memory, a random saying, an insane urge to do laundry or clean, etc. – on most days. “This too shall pass” is one of those sayings you’ve definitely seen on Facebook statuses, tattoos, and in bathroom stalls, and my first feeling when I see it is always of hope. I am suddenly glad I decided to pee in that particular bathroom stall in that particular movie theater because apparently ‘this is a sign’ that whatever crazy drama I am currently going through in my life will also apparently, pass. But there are two sides to that coin.
[Before I proceed to make my point, I want to go off on a slight tangent and insert a memory here]
Lucy: He’s had a REALLY BIG crush on you forever, don’t you like him even a little?
12-yr old me: No.
Lucy: Are you sure? I won’t tell anyone, I can keep a secret, pinky promise!
12-yr old me (after thinking for a moment): I think he’s nice, but I don’t like him in ‘that’ way.
Lucy: But you think he’s nice?
12-yr old me: Yea I guess.
Lucy: So you like him as a friend?
12-yr old me: Yea I guess you could say that. Yup.
Lucy: Okay, your secret’s safe with me!
Suffice to say, the next day the entire school was talking about how I had a crush on this boy who’d had a crush on me forever and my life basically came crashing down all around my awkward pre-teen self. I remember trying to fake a tummy ache to get out of school but it didn’t work. As I walked down the hall past all the pointing and the whispers (yes, I was basically Emma Stone from Easy A), I just wanted to melt into the ground and disappear. At that moment this was the BIGGEST problem in my world, and I couldn’t fathom an existence without that problem. I think that would have been a good time for someone to let me know that ‘this too shall pass’. But I don’t think it was really a trending quote in 2000. The lesson here is that whatever ‘big’ problem you currently have going on in your life right now will probably fade away with time and be replaced by another ‘big’ problem in your never-ending drama of a life. Just saying. Perspective, people.
[Okay, crazy tangent flashback ranting complete]
So as I was saying. The funny thing is, I don’t know if we realize that there are actually two sides to this coin. I didn’t either, until I Wikipedia’d the quote and discovered it’s a proverb created by Persian Sufi poets, that forces us to accept that all things, positive or negative, are temporary. Bad things will pass, but so will good things. So don’t fret too much over the bad stuff because it is bound to pass sooner or later, but don’t be an idiot either and broadcast to the world that you just got the best job ever, or a promotion, or won the lottery or whatever. Because it’s all Leprechaun’s gold in the end. New jobs get old real quick, promotions are taken for granted once you get used to the daily grind, and lottery money WILL be used up at some point. That’s basically the message.
In the end it’s kind of up to you how you choose the view it. The eternal optimist dreamer in me refuses to accept that it applies to anything other than bad situations which in time will leave. Others of you are stone cold realists who probably don’t bother celebrating tiny victories because you keep expecting them to go away. I propose using it the way it was originally intended to be used: to make a sad man happy and a happy man sad. (If you’re interested in knowing more about the origins…Wikipedia it!)