SCOT BELLAVIA: We Are Not the Exception

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Cancer patients or parents of a child with cancer attest to never expecting it to happen to them. The same goes for car accidents and house fires.

“You never think it’s going to be you,” is oft-uttered.

No head-over-heels newlywed couple fathoms a divorce. Rarely does divorce happen overnight but the first conversation considering it is a gut punch, seemingly out of the blue.

We hear stories of celebrities or community members dying but we distance ourselves from the reality of their death because we didn’t know them personally.

“It’s a recession when your neighbor loses his job; it’s a depression when you lose yours.” -President Harry Truman

We have idealized plans to parent better than mom and dad, but we end up doing the same things they did. We believe the police have worse drivers to deal with than us with a broken taillight. We reinterpret our situation as being different than someone else’s in order to justify our choice.

We excuse ourselves from the rules until we realize we are imperfect and not immune to consequences.

When events we are more familiar with in a movie happen to us, our perspective alters. Everything changes when you shift from an audience member to the main actor.

Prior to this perspective shift, we offer unsolicited advice without actually putting ourselves in the other person’s shoes. Uncontrollable variables like human nature play into how we’d behave if it was us and not our neighbor who lost a job. The conclusions we come to in hypothetical conversation are rarely how we would act in practice.

Maybe this is just me. I see the world in black and white. I spend so much time waxing philosophical about the simplified extremes I forget that it is in the blurred gray where life really happens. Expecting people to definitively align with either black or white, I am short on patience and see myself as superior, forgetting that bad things happen to everyone.

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.” -Wendy Mass, author

In my own life, I am coming to the realization that my actions affect more than just me, albeit slowly. Bad events seem impossible or far away so I don’t recognize the importance of making good decisions, especially when they seem so small. However, the slippery slope of bad small decisions is the trajectory to a large consequence.

None of us is above the rule of law nor the law that death comes to all men. I can no longer coast through life irrespective of the consequences. I need to take every moment seriously, being graciously patient with others knowing it may be me in the same situation the very next day.

Scot Bellavia

– Scot Bellavia