“When a man sits with a pretty girl for an hour, it seems like a minute. But let him sit on a hot stove for a minute – and it’s longer than any hour. That’s relativity.”
Often complicated terms are quite often best explained using real world examples. Setting aside my experiences of sitting with pretty girls, this example seems to demonstrate another important aspect for our lives. That is the relativity of any situation. What do I mean? The answer to that can be found by answering another question I am frequently asked, “Neil how do you remain positive even when going through a very negative situation?” Well I simply see how things are relative. Let us just pretend you are not thrilled with your job. You can visit your local unemployment office and see the desperation in the eyes of people looking for any kind of work. This principle was brought to my attention in a big way a few weeks ago. I was taking a friend to the hospital as they did not have transportation. I was a bit ill myself, nothing major perhaps a cold or the flu. It was early in the morning and following dropping this friend at their next destination I had to then go into work. As I sit in the waiting room thinking about how much I would rather be in bed sleeping and using that time to feel better, wishing I could return to my warm and waiting bed instead of going to work for ‘the man’. I must confess I even started to question my decision to help my friend when I was sick myself. As I sat there in a world of frustration, pity and sinus pressure a message was sent to me that couldn’t have been any louder. I believe I had closed my eyes to try and get some brief moments of rest in the oh so comfortable waiting room chairs when the silence was broke by a young child’s voice yelling “Daddy! Daddy!” With a slight feeling of being disturbed out of the few seconds of sleep I was hoping to find I opened my eyes. What did I see? A young boy about the age of six who was going through some serious treatment as he looked quite thin and was missing all of his hair. It was more what he wasn’t missing that delivered the message to me. This brave young man was wearing one of the biggest smiles I have ever seen. With all of his enthusiasm he asked “Daddy do you think the cancer will go away so I can go back to school with the rest of my friends?” The look in his father’s eyes showed that he did not share the young child’s positive outlook. Suddenly I felt rather guilty. Here I was filled with self-pity for my head cold and having the honor of helping a friend who could really use it. I was healthy enough to work unlike this child who would have given anything just to return to his ‘job’. Intellectually I know the saying “Somebody always has it worse than you” but here is a young child with a serious illness who is enthusiastic and focused on becoming healthy again. I had a simple cold or flu and I am feeling like the world is out to get me. Normally guilt is not an emotion I recommend people even experience because they tend to let it weigh them down like an anchor. Even guilt can serve a great purpose when used properly. I let my guilt and shame (another emotion you should normally avoid) to drive into my often thick head that even our troubles are relative and though they may seem like a burden to us they would be a blessing to others. If I would have asked that young cancer patient if he would rather be sent to school with a terrible cold I am sure the young man would have jumped at the chance. He also reminded me a lesson I am usually teaching others but that I also need to be reminded of. How we approach our situations often goes a long way to determining their outcomes. If I had approached my minor health issue with the same positivity this young man approached his serious one I would have undoubtedly been feeling a lot better. I noticed watching this young man interact with people in the waiting room I was already feeling a lot better. By the time my friend was done with her visit I had a smile on my face and was thankful to be going into work. So remember to try and keep a positive focus on our lives even when they seem challenging. Feel free to print out this story if it will help you remember better. I know the experience certainly was a great reminder for me.