Getting your life “back” (or: I’ll be happy “when…”)

In 1999 John F Kennedy Jr, his wife, and her sister were killed when the plane he was piloting at night with the three aboard crashed into the sea. Some may recall that in the weeks prior, Kennedy had been photographed wearing a cast & using crutches. Just before the flight he’d had the cast removed. Over the 20 years since I’ve sometimes wondered if he thought to himself or even said aloud about the cast’s removal, “Now I have my life back.” That’s what would have been tempted to say to myself in similar conditions.

I feel badly about all of it and empathetic if he did indeed feel that way, that now his life “could start again” only to have it promptly end in such a dramatic, horrific way, which is not to disregard in any way his responsibility for his wife’s and her sister’s deaths as well.

Kennedy’s ankle cast & subsequent death are locked into my mind, married together. He probably was so happy & relieved to have that cast taken off (in fact its removal was the deciding factor in his ability to fly without a co-pilot).  I have been guilty, as many are, of thinking, when so & so happens, my life can start, or start again. Sometimes things DO improve after such & so happens but the overriding point is there is almost no guarantee that it will. Just because we think when “X” happens my life will get better, doesn’t make it so. And sometimes, maybe one area improves and another worsens. (Imagine say, for example, the person who lands their Dream Job and consequently their relationship suffers because all their time & attention is being absorbed.)

I’ve been wanting to bring up this thought for awhile about John F Kennedy Jr so there isn’t any specific link to the present intended. That said, I know that many people currently feel their lives are on hold and they want to “get back to normal.” I don’t feel this way, for a variety of reasons not especially germaine to this post. What I think, however, is that this is your life. It may not be the best part, or an enjoyable part, or your favorite part, but it’s still part. I think that’s always true, whether there’s a pandemic or not. And not just because of the rare chance that a huge, dramatic experience, possibly a very bad one, is waiting for you on the other side of this or any given time, but because if you’re here and breathing, this is your life. That’s easy to forget, I know. I suspect John F Kennedy’s story, the ankle cast and the fatal crash, stick with me, as a reminder. A reminder which can be seen as either grim or hopeful, depending on how you/I choose to look at it.

 

17 thoughts on “Getting your life “back” (or: I’ll be happy “when…”)

  1. nrhatch

    Yup. We are HERE and it is NOW . . . what else is there?

    Happiness is not waiting for us at the end of the road ~ it’s found here and now, by enjoying each step along the way!

    Now and then it’s good to pause in our pursuit of happiness and just be happy.

    “A good traveler has no set plans and is not intent on arriving.” ~ Lao Tzu

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  2. Ally Bean

    You make a lot of sense. I remember when the plane crashed, but I didn’t know the part about John Jr’s cast. I agree with you that we have to stop talking about getting back to normal and live now. In reality. Preferably with a bit of grace and kindness.

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    1. Colette Post author

      Thanks Ally. I think it’ll be “back to different” not “back to normal.” The only guarantee (in life) is change right? Spot on with live now as well as we can muster. Grace & kindness would show real style.. I have a theory that is easy enough to be decent when times are good; it’s when they aren’t that we see what we’re made of.

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    1. Colette Post author

      Kate, I appreciate it. I’ve learned I’m pretty lousy at predicting things so far as how life will unfold and what I’ll think/feel as a result.😐 There are inevitably twists & surprises & big fat disappointments.

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  3. Sheila Moss

    A lot of the things I like to do are around home anyhow, so my life has not changed much except we can’t go out to eat. As you said, just make the most of it and go on. I will be glad when the senior center opens again, though, and I have options even if I don’t take them.

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    1. Colette Post author

      Haha! I know the feeling about wanting options I’m unlikely to use. I’m with you, Sheila, my life is not radically changed this year, which is unusual as compared to many people.

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  4. Pistachios

    I remember when we were in the thick of it, there was a lot of bemoaning the loss of freedom and the loss of lifestyles people used to have. People were impatient for this to be over so they could “get back to normal”. But at the same time there were people saying that our previous normal allowed this to happen, so we can’t go back – we must create a new normal.
    And then there are those who took this lockdown as a chance to improve in some way – learn a new skill, take up a new hobby, exercise more, fix things or renovate around the house. Attitude and perspective are really important!

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    1. Colette Post author

      I once read that people don’t approach their deaths with any more insight, wisdom, etc, than they’ve ever applied to any other trouble in their lives (which was a surprise to me but makes sense). The pandemic seems much the same; I expect people use whatever skills and perspective they had prior to it.

      That’s a good point about “normal” bringing us here.

      The longer this goes on, the more moods/colors it takes on to me. My average year has a variety of ups & downs. This feels much the same. It must be that way for other people too. Although the ones that want to hurry it away and do whatever the hell they feel like (normal) put the rest of us at risk.

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