Life Problems are a Matter of Perspective

Before I start I
want you to try something; find something really small like a coin or a key or
even your finger. Hold it out at arms length and observe the size of this
object in comparison to everything else around you. Now hold this object up to
you face; note how much larger it seems.
In life we often
encounter problems that can cause us to stress (rightfully so) but sometimes we
stress as a result of overreacting to something small that only seems
large. I have found (but definitely not mastered) that the key to walking away
from these situations in good health is to be able to take a step back and try
to look at the big picture. Is this really a huge problem or is the problem
just to close to your face for you to be able to observe the actual size of the
situation?
When something
unexpected happens (like my truck’s radiator springing a leak) we get caught in
that very moment and immediately start to stress out which for MS is obviously
not good. I was stressing out all day when this happened because I had no idea
how I could afford to fix this. “Why now?” I found myself thinking. I was
caught up in the moment, I was angry, the penny (problem) was too close to my
face for me to see how big the problem really was.
At the end of the
day I had formulated a plan and I knew it was going to work out; I was not
stressed anymore. I held the problem out at arms length and saw the actual size
of it. But guess what? All that stress from earlier in the day? It screwed me
up the next day; I almost thought I would have to leave work! Then another
problem! I drove to work just fine and parked my truck. I got to work really
early (as always) and while I was standing by my car waiting for the doors to
open I realized I had parked crooked. My OCD compelled me to straighten it out
so I hopped back in the drivers seat, turned the key and… nothing. The starter
was clicking but the engine would not turn.
I didn’t want to
stress so I locked up and went to work. I texted my friend (who is a mechanic)
and we went through a list of horrible possibilities. Now I was stressed again.
“I have to replace my radiator and now for some reason my truck won’t start so
I am going to have to have it towed home.” So I asked if I could leave an hour
early to deal with this. My friend had told me of all these things I should try
to see if the engine had seized and all that fun stuff; problem was I didn’t
have any of the right tools to do the job. I sat in my truck, took a deep
breath and tried to hold that penny at arms length again. What are my options?
Pay for a tow truck with money I don’t have, camp in my truck till work the
next day or get creative. Those who know me will know I chose the latter.
I am not going to
get into the mechanics of things but basically a car won’t start if it’s not in
drive (or neutral I believe) so what if my truck, when parked, had not stopped
in a gear? I put it in drive and I pushed it forward until it stopped rolling
meaning it had it a gear. I put on the brakes, turned the key and the engine
started just like that. What a relief! I drove home without spending money on
an unnecessary tow.
Back to the stupid
radiator. I had my friend order one for me at the shop where he works at and he
got it within a couple of hours. Before that I took it by a shop and asked for
pricing and opinions. It would have been about $200 just to diagnose it, not
even fix it! He gave me his opinion and I decided I could take care of this on
my own. I got my truck home after 2 hours of pulling over every 5 minutes to let
my overheating engine cool. I emptied the radiator and flushed it with water
several times to get it clean-ish. I topped it off with new fluids and no more
over heating! Again, I could explain why this is but that is far beside the
point. So let’s keep a tally going; I just saved $200 on a diagnosis that I was
able to do myself (the head gasket was fine which would have been an expensive
fix in a shop).
The radiator my
friend ordered cost me $100 which was wholesale; the list price was $200 and
most shops would probably hike it up even more. But let’s assumed I saved $100;
adding to the tally I just saved $300. My friend helped me install it last
night so I didn’t have to pay for labor, which would have been at least $100 or
more. Tally;  saved $400. I bought and
mixed all the fluids so ultimately? By taking a step back and looking at my
problem from a distance I saved at the very least $400 to $500 and it could
have been much more depending on the shop and fees. Had I had to pay $500 plus
instead of $100 for the part, $20 for supplies, and $20 for his dinner I agreed
to pay for, I would be so stressed and have fallen so far behind. Oh yeah, he
was able to tighten my accelerator cable (which I have been meaning to do but
have not had time) in about 5 minutes so now my truck goes the proper speed and
has the proper torque for a truck with a V6 engine. No more holding up traffic
while I struggle up a hill.
So again, what is
the main point to take away from this experience? When a problem in life comes
up don’t be consumed by it and the stress it brings along; move it away from
your face and when you take a step back you will be able to see the actual size
of the situation compared to the world around you. This is not easy, like I
said, I still have a hard time doing this before it’s too late, but when I do
manage to do this it allows me to see the simple solution and avoid stress. For
many of us with MS, we are used to bad news and we have grown to always expect
the worst. This is a bad habit because staying positive greatly causes how your
body will be effected to differ from how it would be affected if you are always
negative.
Now things worked
out so far. But I was still under a lot of stress the last few days. It
affected my balance, my fatigue, my strength, and my cognitive skills. Today
the dust has settled but I still don’t feel so great; I feel tight and I can’t
think as clearly as usual. Luckily I only work 4 and a half hours today (never
done a half shift before, weird, but I don’t care) and tomorrow is a full day
but then I have Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday off. I have my infusion on
Wednesday but I am not sure what is up with having the day before and after off
but I don’t care; this will be my time to distress and work on my health.
The following week
my schedule goes back to normal and oh yeah, I got a raise, so all is well. I
still have a few financial issues but those will resolve in one way or another.
Over the last few years life may have been a struggle uphill with weights on my
back but now I am over the top and coasting downhill. Things are much better in
life as I roll towards my goal of getting my own place and a steady job but
even when going downhill there are sure to be little bumps in the road but
gravity will still do it’s thing and pull me towards my goal at the bottom of the
hill.

3 Responses to Life Problems are a Matter of Perspective

  1. Hi Matt! I really enjoyed reading about how you take perspective into consideration when you encounter a problem. I’ve realized that is something that’s important to do but not always the easiest. Sometimes we get so caught up in the moment and think that the problem in front of us is so much bigger than it really is. When in reality, most of the time, we are able to handle it. I also appreciate how you incorporated the effect that stressful situations in life can have on MS. Thanks for your insight!
    Sincerely,
    Samie De Mel

  2. Hi Matt! I really enjoyed reading about how you take perspective into consideration when you encounter a problem. I’ve realized that is something that’s important to do but not always the easiest. Sometimes we get so caught up in the moment and think that the problem in front of us is so much bigger than it really is. When in reality, most of the time, we are able to handle it. I also appreciate how you incorporated the effect that stressful situations in life can have on MS. Thanks for your insight!
    Sincerely,
    Samie De Mel

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *