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James Ferragut, Published December 19 2010

Ferragut: World swallows our souls

Life happens in cycles. Mountains and valleys. Storms and calm. But there are reefs under the calm waters, dangers on mountaintops, heat in valleys and blindness in sunlight. We endure the storms because, as Peter Gabriel said: “It’s only in uncertainty when we’re naked and alive.” Uncertainty stalks us.

The world swallows souls. Life will hit us with a surprise left, and we find ourselves dazed and trying to reclaim our bearings. Whether it’s the news of a loved one’s cancer, the breakdown of a relationship, the loss of a job, a financial hit or the challenge of faith, it’s up to each of us to navigate the setbacks.

Perhaps you’re one of the lucky ones and have been able to float through life without a significant bump. Maybe you are in the zone where you believe that since those things haven’t affected you, they don’t exist. But things can unravel. Your sense of security and infallibility can be assaulted. Everything you took for granted will be challenged; and if you’re smart, they’ll be treasured in perspective. If you’re one of the fortunate ones leading the Teflon life and you get nailed: “Welcome to the club.”

You can search your soul or your faith and you might not find answers, only demons. You can blame the world or blame yourself, but you control your emotions. This is where friends and family come in. We all need Samaritans. We all need to reach for the inner strength we all have. It’s not easy; it can be brutal to look in the mirror and admit imperfection. It takes guts, discipline and effort to find strength, but we do it. Resilience is our most remarkable quality.

Facing the beast is easier when we take small steps. James Taylor once said in a brilliant song about life: “… cutting our losses into doable doses …” “Doable doses” can give us the space and clarity to breathe, to think and to strategize. Breaking it down can help us find our way.

And when the weather warms, which it will, it’s important to remember where you were and how you felt during the storm. Life will go on, things will improve. But it’s easy to forget. Maybe it’s a defense mechanism that allows us to bury pain and insecurity when life hits hardest.

Take this advice: If you’re not facing a storm now, be thankful that everything is cool in your world. But if the winds are raging and it all seems to be too much, do what you must do: Put your head down, brace yourself and face the tempest one more day.

Ferragut is a marketing executive and contributor to The Forum’s commentary page.