by Dave Markwell

On a Tuesday morning, a lovely friend informed me that she was pregnant. (NOT mine!!) She is a married mother of three equally lovely little girls, including a fine set of twins. This announcement was made with some hesitation, as a certain degree of trepidation sometimes accompanies grand announcements. Overshadowing the trepidation were the feelings of love and hope and joy that only new babies can inspire.

On a different Tuesday, another lovely friend informed me that he had cancer. While the prognosis was about as good as any cancer diagnosis could be, it’s still cancer. The feelings of fear and uncertainty leak into even the most logical of outcome potentials.

On different Tuesdays, very different events unfolded. Different conversations inspired different feelings. During each breath we take, conversations like these occur. New people are born and old people die and not-old people die. The world keeps spinning through these conversations and events.

And though the world moves on, it is changed, because we are changed. We are changed when we hear certain words and we feel certain things. Minute shifts in our perspectives and awareness move us differently. These shifts change how we think and care about things. We are forever changing, often imperceptibly, in very real ways. Conversations change us and how we see and feel about our world. This changes how we act, if we use them appropriately.

While talking to my buddy about his diagnosis, he was realistic, but philosophical about his circumstances. He said some words that remain with me “Someone else deals the cards and we have to play them.” These words instead of diminishing hope inspired it. Instead of resignation, I felt empowered.

In another life, I spent some time at card tables. Being an unsuccessful gambler, I am familiar with the strong feelings that a crappy dealer can provoke. After being kicked off of a Pai Gow table for expressing my feelings about a particularly shady dealer, I remember being a little sad. I was sad not because I could no longer play, about that I was happy as I was losing my can. I was sad, because I acted like an ass. The dealer does not pick which cards come off the deck, yet I took the bad cards personally and lost my temper and some degree of dignity.

In this lesson, the enduring message is that circumstances are rarely personal and even though we are affected personally, we are only lost when we give control to circumstances instead of focusing on our response to them. Our response defines us. Bad things happen and good things happen. They always have and they always will. Maintaining some composure and dignity and faith goes a long way towards preserving and/or creating favorable outcomes.

While I support hating the cards we are dealt from time to time, I also recognize that once certain cards are dealt, we must play them. We cannot fold and start over. In these times, it is our response that determines a bust or a win. And, played right, we can walk away from even the lousiest hands with a win…

[EDITOR’S NOTE:”Feel Good Friday” is a regular column written by Des Moines resident Dave Markwell, whose first book is called “A Feel Good Life” (buy it on Amazon here). Dave also extols to all neighbors: “Enjoy where we live. Put your feet on the pavement and truly feel how great it is to live here!” Also, you can “friend” Dave on Facebook here. Or work out with him at his exercise company Waterland CrossFit!]

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