Friday, August 30, 2013

Only Once, Just Briefly

We met only once, just briefly, at the coffee shop down the block, when I held the door open for you, and our eyes met for a second before I followed you inside, taking a seat not far from where you sat reading Rabelais, and I wracked my mind for everything I had learned about his work in an undergraduate literature course that I found rather boring at the time, wishing that I paid more attention for moments like this, as I sat sipping my coffee. I don’t remember what I said as I approached, but it made you smile, the first time I saw your eyes light up, and as I sat we talked about literature in the way of those lost in a language all their own, unrecognizable to those not lost in the moment or in the know, and as we sat there, exchanging stories of our favorite writers, you slowly grew older, each second ticking by an eternity, until we left the cafe and made our way to your apartment for our first dinner, and after a week we were married, all our friends and family gathered in the small church where you grew up and were baptized as a small child, everyone wishing us well, as the seconds flew by, each tick a resounding thud. And then, after a month, we welcomed our first child, a little girl with blond curls, who soon will be driving, edging her way out of our lives, one small piece at a time in personal freedom and creation of a life in which we are outliers, no longer the norm, the ones to bandage, and kiss, and console, our places taken by someone new, someone who loves her, perhaps as much, so he claims, or she claims, as we, but we both know this is to untrue, and it’s only a matter of time before she finds out for herself, welcoming our first grandchild, a small boy, too soon in college. And after a month, we awaken at dawn, the colors of day having melted into night, the oranges and pinks of dusk blotted out by a sea of black, starlit holes punched in the cosmic canvas, awaken to find ourselves side-by-side, our hands holding each other’s, wrinkled fingers entwined, soft flesh replaced by hard bone, joints aching on contact, the arthritic reminders of age, our hair gray, as you take your last breath, and our bodies turn to dust, small granules to be swept away in a matter of moments.

But we didn’t, for we met only once, just briefly, at the coffee shop down the block, when I held the door open for you, and our eyes met for a second before I stepped out of the coffee shop, the door softly shutting behind you as you made your way to your seat, where you would sit reading Rabelais over a small cup of coffee, and I made my way down the street, off into the day, a day that held nothing but a momentary glimpse of what could have been.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Drowning on the Beach

You'd think that the safest place to be was on the sand. That if you were going to drown, it would be out there, in the ocean, out amidst the waves; out in the depths of the salty blue expanse that stretches as far as the eye can see; out where there is nothing under your feet except water. Out where you fight to stay afloat. Not on the beach, as your toes dig into the soft sand. But as you watch others frolic in the water, you feel that empty pit in your stomach swell, swell until it compresses your chest and it's all can do to breathe. You sit with your knees pulled up to your concrete chest. Those around you watch but don't understand. They ask if you're all right, but all you can do is nod slightly. No one's first thought is to throw you a life preserver or to jump in to save you because, after all, you're safe on the sand. They  don't understand it, but you're drowning.  

According to the World Health Organization, as of 2012, nearly 350 million people worldwide are affected by depression. It isn't something that is necessarily easily to discuss for those who are battling it. The effects are numerous, the most serious of them being suicide. Again according to the WHO, nearly 1 million people end their lives each year by suicide.  Depression affects the way we think, perform various tasks, and struggle through each day. 

Many variables can exacerbate depression: stressful relationships, a dissatisfying workplace, rejection, that moment when you realize your passions are far greater than your talent. Recognizing these variables doesn't necessarily lead to controlling them. Those afflicted may avoid the term depression, talking about it through code: stress, anxiety, "I have a lot on my mind." I know, because I've been there. When I was 17 or 18, I referred to it as stress. And sure, I felt stressed. But it went beyond that: it was a debilitating weight that would drag me through my day-to-day routine. That overwhelming empty weight trapped in the pit of my stomach, refusing to let go. It nearly ever-present, but it wasn't constant; instead, it would strike at times that I least expected it: when I was out with friends, when my girlfriend and I were watching a movie, when I was reading. I mentioned it in my coded term of stress to someone, refusing to identify it for what it was, and the basic response I got was damning: "You gotta learn to get over it." I don't know what response I was expecting, but it wasn't that. It seems that far too often that is the response that is issued: get over it. As though we hadn't already thought of that ourselves. If it were that easy, if we could magically waive a wand and be over it, we'd need not discuss it. But getting over it is so much easier said than done. 

I had a friend in high school who cut herself. I don't know the extent to which she did this, as it seemed to have occurred prior to our meeting, but I've heard the stories, the accounts of self-loathing and contempt. Another friend of mine, someone in whom I see a true kindred spirit, confessed to me over coffee one evening that he had once sat with a gun in his mouth. He had gone through a hard time the previous couple years, situations that would likely have crushed me had I been in his shoes, and as a result, he found himself sitting with a gun in his mouth, debating whether to pull the trigger. Numerous other stories come to mind, too countless to tell. Stories I've heard over the years while talking to students and friends, family members and strangers. 

My ex-wife never really understood my depression, at least not fully. I've always been an anxious person and prone to bouts of depression. And since high school,  in the back of my mind, I have always wondered what my life would be like had I taken a different path. What life would be like had I moved to California when I thought about it. Don't get me wrong-- I wouldn't change my life, divorce and other experiences included; for ultimately, I am happy with my life. But there have been times when the Kerouac-esque spirit will tug at me and I long for the life of a true raconteur. A life in New York City or Los Angeles, a life a million miles away. She knew I wasn't happy, and once she asked me, "Why aren't we enough?" referring also to Holden. I couldn't fully articulate a response. There was just a burning desire for something different, something adventurous and exciting. Exciting on a different level from the excitement of parenthood. There were those times when my circumstances would exacerbate my underlying depression, and the crippling weight would settle on my shoulders. 

I think often of my friends who've tried suicide or who've thought about it. About those who walk to the gun rack and stand there, staring, but for one reason or another don't go through with it. An older friend of mine tells the story, though only rarely, of the night he almost took his life. He lay in bed, gun in his hand, alone in his house. He swears that before he could do it, he felt a hand pat his shoulder, tenderly offering the reassurance that it would be okay. To this day, he's convinced that it was the ghost of the elderly wan who'd died in that room before he bought the house. Whether it was a paranormal action, Divine intervention, or something else entirely, he didn't go through with it. 

When I was working at the grocery store where I worked through high school, college, and my first years of teaching, I was at times rather friendly to customers, especially to those regulars I got to know, even if just casually, over the years. Other times, I let my stress and dissatisfaction with having worked there for so long get the better of me, and I was rather contemptuous. But I remember one day a lady whom I did not recognize came through my line. And she thanked me. She thanked me for smiling and being nice, and told me, quietly and modestly, that I'd never know how much it meant to see a smiling face. Being young, I didn't think too much of it, but in the intervening years, it has stuck in my mind. Is a smile at a stranger, a kind hello, enough to totally relieve someone's depression? Likely not. But it's a start, a step in the right direction. A sign that someone cares, even if it's just part of the job. Because let's face it, most of the time when I was nice and polite at the store, unless I had come to know you, it was because my job demanded that I be so. But on the day that I smiled at that lady, the fact that I was just doing my job didn't matter to her in the least. It was a brief moment of hope and help when she needed it. 

Don't think the brevity associated with this following issue is in any way indicative of my thinking it is a lesser issue, for I've seen too many people battling depression over coming to terms with who they are as gay men and women in a society that is not wholly accepting of them.  I've worked with students who are depressed and suicidal as they struggle with coming to terms with who they are and seeking acceptance from their peers and family, and I have friends who've battled the same struggles. Their struggle is great, and the last thing they need is other's condemnation. 

It gets better. And maybe that getting better starts one smile at a time. 

I leave you with these:

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The Master's Radio: Southern Gospel Music as Familial Tradition

“I still have a religious side,” I said when my girlfriendquestioned my interest in Southern Gospel music. She laughed and rolled her eyes. In retrospect, I suppose she had every reason to laugh, for the majority of the time she and I had spent together over the last year found us in various states of undress. My life didn’t mirror that of someone who listened to Southern Gospel music, at least not from the perspective of the majority of people who listened to the religious music I had become so fond of over the years. And I suppose, ultimately, that over the years since this conversation that is so engrained in my memory, I’ve accepted this realization, for my listening to Southern Gospel often has far less to do with any sort of religious worship or Godly communion. Rather, my love for the music of my grandmother and those like her, with whom I so often associate gospel quartets, has become for me an act of remembering and upholding familial and personal tradition.

My grandmother would often attend the National Quartet Convention in Louisville, Kentucky, just a few hours from our home in Ashland with friends of hers from church and other avenues of her life. They would stay in a hotel in the city, and the pictures she would bring home from their journeys depicted less a serious setting than a fun retreat rife with pajamas, junk food, and playing cards. At least where the hotel was concerned. When it came to the music, they were serious, for it was a passion that ran deep in my grandmother, and I can assume likewise in her friends. To Nana, the music was just an extension of her love for God and the desire she had to serve Him to the fullest of her abilities. My grandmother was the type to stand with her hands upraised toward Heaven, her eyes closed, as she sang along to the songs she knew, sung by the groups whose members she talked about on a first-name basis—people like George Younce, Bill Gaither, and Kirk Talley, to name but a few of the singers whose names I would come to learn over the course of my childhood because of my grandmother. And the best part, for me, was that my grandmother would return home from Louisville with cassette tapes, and later CDs, of groups she had discovered at the conventions, and it would be those recordings that would serve as the soundtrack for my days spent in and around the kitchen with my grandmother as she cooked, cleaned, and did the laundry.

It seems only natural, then, that I would gain an appreciation for Southern Gospel given my long-term exposure to it. Just as my grandfather’s listening to Ray Charles and Conway Twitty led to my being the only person I know my age who knows every word to “You’ve Never Been This Far Before” (hardly a song on par with the moral message of the music my grandmother chose), my grandmother’s constant playing of gospel music washed over me, boring deep into me and taking root. One of my earliest memories is of riding with my grandparents to pick up my mother from her nursing job at Three Rivers Hospital in Louisa; it was on these trips that I would come to learn the song “Keep the Home Fires Burning,” a gospel song that would serve as the precursor to everything I would learn over the next several years about the music. I would be constantly exposed to it—church, church camp, my grandmother’s kitchen. Everywhere I went, it seemed, in some avenue of my life, there was Southern Gospel music. Quartets and solo artists came to church for special services and revivals; they provided the morning and evening music for week-long camp meetings at Mt. Hope, a campground in Flemingsburg, KY, that I would come to view as my grandmother did: the closest we would get to Heaven on Earth. There even came I time when I spent my New Year’s Eve at the Paramount Art Center, a former movie house that now houses plays and concerts, taking in a Kirk Talley concert to ring in the new year. I was, if memory serves, the youngest person there by far, but I knew I was precisely where I needed to be.

By the time I reached sixth grade, I was listening to primarily Christian music. A new Southern Gospel station had begun broadcasting in our area—Joy FM—and my parents had begun listening to it in the car and around the house. Now I was exposed to Southern Gospel regardless of which part of the family I was with: with my parents in our house and with my grandparents next door. My parents had even begun to sing Southern Gospel in our church in a makeshift quartet comprised of my future youth pastor and his wife. And all the while, I was moving about the house, walking to and from school, cutting the grass, listening to gospel quartets and singing along at the top of my lungs, never mind the fact that I couldn’t—and still can’t—really sing. During this time, I was stunned when I found out that other Christians listened to non-Christian music. I was listening to the Cathedrals and Kirk Talley, as well as some Contemporary Christian music, and it was unfathomable to me that my friends and peers weren’t. That they were listening to music about sex and violence and drugs—this was during the heyday of boy bands and the influx of Latino pop artists, and rap, as always, was popular—was representative of a dichotomy in the Christian faith, though at the time I didn’t have the critical thinking skills or vocabulary to express it as such: those who professed one thing and did another were the people I had idolized and seen as holy servants of God. I hadn’t yet learned about the dual nature of man, and the compartmentalization of elements that, when taking as a whole, make us who we are. All I knew was that Christians listened to Christian music, and the fact that some didn’t disallowed me to resolve what it meant to be a Christian and live fully in the likeness of God.

But it was around this time that my own exterior and interior religious self would begin to separate from each other. Where once I was a Christian—inwardly, outwardly, and all around—I found myself beginning to give in to the ways of the world, and it started, I suppose, with music. I began listening to the music of my peers, taking an interest in what was cool and modern. Over the next few years, I would function almost as a split person—part Christian, part world-liver. There was always a part of me, even if only deep down and hiding, that was a Christian and loved gospel music on some level for the worship aspects of it, the extension of my love for God and my wanting to serve him as He commanded. Somewhere along the way, though, in the days of high school and the questioning and critical thinking that comes with the confusion of adolescence, as we question who we are and why; as we try to separate our beliefs and ideas from those of our parents, trying to understand what beliefs were actually ours and what had only been masquerading as truth (or Truth); and we attempt to come into our own; somewhere during this existential journey, something within me changed, and I don’t know that even now I can pinpoint precisely what it was. Somehow, I was living as two different people—one person on Sundays, Wednesdays, and every other Monday for youth meetings and activities, and another during the rest of the week, even on Sunday afternoons and evenings after church. In essence, I had become one of the people I couldn’t understand when I was in sixth grade. Somewhere, though, I still had an appreciation for the music I had loved growing up, but it was during this time that the meaning of Southern Gospel music began to change, perhaps imperceptibly at first: my purpose for listening to the music for which I had always had an appreciation was not solely a religious one. This change would manifest itself slowly over the years, taking a shape that led some to believe my faith had been totally abandoned; others that it was still burning deep within me. It all depended on the context in which someone knew me. And then ultimately, my appreciation for it diminished to the extent that I didn’t really consider it at all.

And then my grandparents died. My grandparents, on whom I had relied so heavily during my life—through the loss of my mother when I was six, my dad and stepmother’s marriage when I was nine and the subsequent often-tumultuous years that would follow; through those summer months spent listening to Southern Gospel quartets in the small kitchen as mygrandmother made me fried biscuits for breakfast, lunch, and dinner; during trips to the beach and out west to see family, to church camp. My grandparents who were so influential in my becoming the person I am today. Now gone. Both of them within six months of each other in 2004 during my junior year of high school and into the summer before my senior year. And it was while going through their house, reminiscing of the good times that I will forever associate with my grandparents, that my love of gospel music was rekindled. Tucked away in a smallcupboard in my grandparents kitchen and in a tall rack not far from it were several of Nana’s cassettes and CDs that she had accumulated over the years at quartet conventions, revival meetings, and gospel concerts; I took them with me and played them, reveling in the music I hadn’t truly considered in years.Which is how I found myself in the middle of a mall in Nashville after having spent the previous several hours in nearby Clarksville passing out witness tracts and church invitations for a church run by my youth pastor’s cousin. I don’t remember how the conversation started, but at some point my then-girlfriend said, “You listen to gospel music?” It wasn’t just a question: it was a condemnation, a statement of disbelief that probed the exterior I had put up over the past several years of existential searching for my place in a world that would allow me to be both critical thinking liberal humanist and devout Christian with a child-like faith, following the path that had been carved before me by the likes of my grandparents and those like them who modeled for me the virtues of Christian living.

“I still have a religious side,” I answered.

The rolling of her eyes said more than anything she could have verbalized. I had, in that moment, a crisis of self—a self that I had been cultivating for the past several years as I began to question what I believed and what those beliefs meant in a modern world. What had I become? And was it too late to return to that child-like person I was who blindly believed whatever came from the pulpit or the music in Nana’s kitchen?

Over the next several years the church I thought I had known growing up—the church as a body of believers coming together for a common purpose, regardless of the church building they happened to attend on a Sunday morning—would be presented to me more and more legalistically: a series of rights and wrongs, dos and don’ts that seemed to matter far more than anything else I had learned about God in the previous years. Churches I knew were exposed as solipsistic—only their view of the Bible was good enough, only their pastors holding the answers that people needed. Acts that were not technically wrong, or that were are least seemingly up for debate—going to a concert at a bar, for instance—were met with secretive admonishments of “I can’t believe he would do that. And to think, he’s an usher on Sundays!” a refrain apparently best when offered behind closed doors and the back of the person in question. A drink of alcohol was presented to me as the first step down a slippery slope that would surely lead to a moral degradation from which there could be no resurrection short of a miraculous intervention. This new view I was beginning to see mixed with the question that had begun in high school and was only exacerbated by my inquisitive nature and fostered in my humanities courses in college where I was exposed to history and interpretation of religious ideologies that had been previously foreign to me. But through it all, I retained what I had once called “my religious side,” listening to Contemporary Christian Music, going to church and concerts, and for a while, I struggled to reconcile the two selves that had manifested themselves in my life. There were periods where I was intensely fervent and “on-fire,” to use the associated lingo; but there were other times, seemingly more and more often, that that fervor was replaced by a growing sense of apathy, my religious side atrophying for one reason or another, not that even now I can truly assign blame to any one cause. For the most part, during my college years, Southern Gospel was as foreign to me as another language—it was no longer truly a part of who I was.

That’s not to say that I wasn’t exposed to elements of Southern Gospel during this time. The summer after my senior year of high school I was still cognizant enough of the music and those involved that when the Kirk Talley scandal made it to the pages of GQ, I was shocked to read the article, to see someone I had idolized as a child in that predicament. And one of the first things I remember thinking was: “I wonder what Nana would say?” Though I didn’t make a conscious effort to listen to Southern Gospel during this time, I was exposed to variations of it, or at least music that was similar: the gospel recordings of Johnny Cash, Ray Price, Gillian Welch, and Joan Baez, all of whom have had songs and records with a religious side; a good gospel track tucked away in the middle of a bluegrass record; the occasional gospel song in church, a deviation from the standard praise and worship that so often comprises the worship services of any number of churches I’ve attended in my young adulthood. 

The power of music is interesting in that it, perhaps better than anything else, can strike a chord down deep within us, eliciting from us an eye-closing, head-swaying moment of pure joy. It needn’t be religious music, it must only be true music—true in the sense that it has the power to move us. There have been times over the years, even after my questioning period of a conflicted self arose, that I’ve stood in church and listened as a song enveloped me, sending an awe-inducing shiver down my spinea song that I could feel far more than I could hearand let it take hold of me. I’ve returned to listening to Southern Gospel over the past couple years, and when I began to take writing seriously, it served as the soundtrack for writing sessions, as my stories came to life in a religious world colored by my experiences; the gospel songs and groups I knew growing up painting a shade of what I wrote. And there are times when a trio or quartet can harmonize through “I’ll Fly Away” or “He Made a Change,” or I can watch Bill Gaither on television late at night as he leads a choir of many familiar faces through a rendition of “That Old Country Church,” or I can stand in church in the midst of a crowd and be lifted to the presence of God as a group sings “Amazing Grace” in four-part harmony, can feel God wrap His arms lovingly around me; but more often than not, when I listen to Southern Gospel now, I am transported instead to my childhood: I’m seven years old in my grandmother’s kitchen as she cooks me fried biscuits while a quartet plays through the speakers of her stereo; I can smell the sweet aroma of melting butter from the frying pan, can taste the delectable treat being prepared for me; or I’m standing at her side at church camp in a sanctuary with no walls in the years before they closed it in, while the evening summer breeze sweeps in with the setting sun, and all I want is to open my eyes and look around, but we’re praying and I can’t; or I’m at my grandmother’s funeral while a family friend sings a rendition of Kirk Talley’s “Serenaded by Angels” and I’m too numb to feel much of anything. Southern Gospel has become a connection to my past, for there is nothing I wouldn’t give to spend one more Saturday night by my grandmother’s side on the couch watching a Gather Homecoming recording, or to spend one more Christmas Break at the kitchen table every morning as she prepared my breakfast of fried biscuits; and now if I close my eyes while the Cathedrals sing, I can almost taste the grape jelly as it mixes with melted butter, oozing out of the middle of a biscuit as my teeth break the golden-brown crust, and for a moment, even if for just a moment, I’m there at the table, and I can relish it against the bittersweet longing that comes with aging until the song ends.

Monday, August 12, 2013

I Like You as a Person: The Many Faces of Rejection

You were an excellent candidate. We're sure you'll find the right fit very soon. 

After reviewing your submission, we have decided that it's not right for our upcoming  issue. 

I like you as a person. 

We like you as a person. 

We're posting your position. We need to find the best teacher we can for these students. Maybe that's you. You're welcome to reapply if you want. 

This just isn't working out. 

We can still be friends. 

Perhaps the most damning: silence. 

We've all faced rejection. We've seen it come in its various forms, taking on different tones and phrasings to meet its needs. It can be said with a smile, a half-grimace that looks just as uncomfortable to make as it is to hear. Maybe it comes in the form of a lost job or the dissolution of a relationship, a rejected manuscript; it can come face to face, through an email, a text, a phone call. Regardless of the wording or means of communication, the message is simple and painful, landing like a sharp slap across the face: someone, for some reason, has decided that you are not good enough. There are times when the news comes as no surprise; hints have been dropped to the extent that you'd actually be more surprised if the news never came. Other times it comes as a shock, no warning signs evidenced in the days, the weeks, the months leading up to it. 

I knew my first marriage was over long before my divorce was finalized. And I was glad when it was official, a statement of mutual rejection on the part of both parties forever etched in stone as a statement of something that had failed. Likewise, I knew it was very likely that I would lose my job at the end of the last school year. One of my bosses had dropped hints throughout most of the year, even telling me in a meeting that I may have to reinterview for my position over the summer. So it came as no surprise when, on the last day of school, I was called into the office and told I no longer had a job. In fact, I told them I'd have been more surprised had we not been having that conversation. And then one of the assistant principals smiled at me and said, "We like you as a person." And it felt as though a little piece of my soul withered and died. I was there as a teacher, a professional with a job to do. I'm glad they liked me as a person, but I needed them to like me as an educator.  


When my exwife was fired from the doctors office where she worked during the first year or so of our marriage, a good friend of mine told me something that I've been turning over in my mind for the last several months. He had been let go from a management position nearly twenty years before, and as I sat in his office after telling him of Amanda's being fired, he said, "It's tough. Once a person loses a job, they're never the same." I didn't think much of it, having never been let go from a position. I couldn't relate to being in that situation. But I've found now that he's right. You begin to doubt, to question. You wonder if you truly aren't good enough. Whatever confidence you had is replaced by self doubt; you find that you question your abilities, wondering if maybe your passions truly are greater than your talents; and you begin to wonder what exactly it is you're supposed to be doing with your life. At least that's where I've found myself thee past few months. If I'm not a teacher, what am I?


Shortly before my divorce was finalized, I had dinner with a friend who had also recently gone through a divorce. We talked about the direction our lives were going, and the topic of God's plan for our lives came up. She said that sometimes she will stop and call out, "God, was that your plan? Was that your plan and I fucked it up?" I've always heard that God has a plan for us, that everything happens for a reason. Somedays that's a comfort, a gentle reminder that everything will be okay; but more often than not, it provides little solace, as I watch my life take directions I would never have expected. I never expected to be an out-of-work divorced father. I never expected to be questioning if I truly wanted to be a teacher or if I was any good at teaching. I never expected losing a teaching job to hit me as hard as it has. 

When we are faced with rejection, those closest to us offer support in any way they can. Some will tell us with a smile to consider the source. "They told you you weren't good enough? Come on, they're not exactly doing great themselves," they'll say, an attempt to make us feel better, suggesting maybe we're just as good if not better than those who rejected us. It's a quiet comfort, but as the weeks stretch into months of bei unemployed, of being single, that comfort, as superficial as it can be, begins to wane. 

A friend of mine who taught high school for eight years had finally had enough last year. He suffered a nervousness breakdown and took a medical leave. He was written off until the end of the school year and refused to go back those year, officially quitting. He told me that the scrutiny and rejection were too much, and that he would never again work for people who weren't as smart as he was. When faced with rejection, that can be an easy attitude to adopt. It can mark you feel better, superior, but it can't be a healthy attitude to sustain, for it must be draining to keep up that pretense as a defense mechanism to deter future rejection and criticism. 

Rejection can be a learning experience. We can use it, learn from it, and be better the next time. But it takes quite a while and quite a determination to reach that point, where acceptance begins and then transforms into something beneficial, something to carry us into a brighter future. I have to admit I'm not there yet. I haven't accepted that my not being good enough can actually make me a better teacher. I know it's true, but acceptance and knowledge are two different albeit related things. For if I truly accept it, I'll have to let go of the bitterness that took root with the sting of rejection. I'll have to move on. Maybe to a new teaching position. Maybe to a new career. I don't know at this point, for as my friend suggested, I'm no longer the same. Always a doubtful, self conscious person, these feelings of inadequacy have increased exponentially since last May. It's easy for me to think I'm smarter than some teachers I know who still have jobs. Easy, but not healthy, for it gives me an air of superiority that will get me nowhere. Nowhere except depressed that they have jobs and I don't. 


What to do when faced with rejection? The easy answer is to reflect on it, accept it, learn from it, and move on. But that, like so many things life, is much easier said than done.