I think we can all agree that poison ivy sucks. Unless you’re one of the rare folks who is immune to the evil weed, you’re probably solidly in the anti-poison-ivy crowd.
For those who are affected by it, it causes a very irritating rash.
If poison ivy is burned and the smoke then inhaled, this rash will appear on the lining of the lungs, causing extreme pain and possibly fatal respiratory difficulty.
If poison ivy is eaten, the digestive tract and airways will be affected, in some cases causing death.
Here’s the thing about toxicodendron radicans: it’s nasty, sure, but its symptoms are pretty handily counteracted by the use of a simple antibiotic and steroid.
Here’s the thing about that antibiotic and steroid: they work great, sure, but they can have nasty interactions with certain kinds of birth control. Like they can make you have to refrain from using them altogether, or render them basically ineffective. I may or may not be speaking from experience.
Good things are often born out of things you think of as bad, which makes those bad things not so bad. Dig?
I know quoting the Sufi poet Jalal ad-Din Rumi is sooo 1990’s, but I do love this passage:
Sorrow prepares you for joy. It violently sweeps everything out of your house, so that new joy can find space to enter. It shakes the yellow leaves from the bough of your heart, so that fresh, green leaves can grow in their place. It pulls up the rotten roots, so that new roots hidden beneath have room to grow.
But that’s not so difficult to figure out. I figure anyone who’s ever read the Book of Job or When Bad Things Happen to Good People knows that simple truth. The really difficult part is being mindful of it often enough to keep you from being miserable half the time. Or more.
Overall, it’s difficult to enjoy life, even when good things happen. Even when good things are happening all the time, it’s tough not to take those things for granted. And it’s kind of one of those sick jokes of the human experience. We’ve only got a limited time to get ourselves together before we start falling apart.
Y’know how when you’re on a roller coaster, and there’s a part where you’re on your way up, and then there’s a terrifying drop where your stomach and your epiglottis sort of slam together? In between those two parts, when you crest at the very top of the world and you feel like you could pluck an aircraft out of the sky - that split-second is nice. You’re not waiting to get to the top, and your fight-or-flight response isn’t blurring your brain like it does during your downhill plummet.
Apart from roller coasters and the like, you can get yourself in a mode of going uphill all the time, and often don’t realize when you get to the top. The uphill climb is adverse; it involves lots of clawing, biting, kicking and scratching. It begs discontentment. But the toughest part is to recognize the point when you don’t have to struggle to get any higher. When you don’t need to be terrified, or discontent. When it’s time to look down at the world and try to take in as much beauty as possible before you gotta get back to the mud and shit and piss back on earth.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the good things in my life lately.There are a lot of them. As of right now, I am healthy, secure, well-fed, loved, and (basically) financially solvent. It occurs to me that, especially compared with 90% of the rest of the world, good things have happened to me for most of my life. It also occurs to me that I have spent a lot of time wishing those good things into existence, and lamenting the non-existence of good things I wish had come to be but did not.
However, I have spent very, very little time acknowledging and enjoying the good things when they do happen. Not just identifiable, episodic good stuff, but the ones that are buzzing in the background all the time.
This is something I intend to work on. Not just in a general sense, or in retrospect, because that’s pretty easy. Anyone can look at this:
and say it’s totally worth it if it ends up leading to this:
And so one has to acknowledge that yes, happiness springs from adversity sometimes, and blah blah blah. But getting it down day to day? Hour to hour? Moment to moment? Realizing that even though you lost your keys, a bill went to collections, you lost a case, you’re getting screwed (figuratively) right now, etc.,overall, things are still pretty great? That’s very, very difficult indeed. But worth the effort. After all, the goal of any uphill climb should be happiness, right?