Years ago, during my days as a DeeJay, one of my favorite songs was “I Will Survive,” first performed by Gloria Gaynor in 1978. It was often used as an anthem of female empowerment and was a firm favorite on the karaoke circuit. It is one of the most famous disco songs of all time reaching number one on the Billboard Hot 100 and receiving the Grammy Award for Best Disco Recording in 1980.
While not necessarily a disco buff myself, I must admit this particular song never failed to inspire me and inevitably encouraged me to look on the brighter side of any circumstance. This past weekend, I heard this classic once again on our local “oldies” station. It not only rekindled fond memories but forced me to think about the many pressures we’re asked to endure today.
Life is full of stress. Financial forecasters seem to take great joy in spreading a barrage of negative news ranging from the drop of the Dow to the rise of unemployment. Add greedy CEOs and crooked politicians. Include another investment scam or a bankrupt lender. Announce dozens of retail closings and the fall of the Big Three. What does all this fear and panic do? It causes more fear and panic which is bad for your heart, mind and spirit.
However, this happens only if we allow it. We sometimes need to be reminded of how resilient we are … how much we’ve endured and the obstacles we’ve overcome in the past. It’s easy to forget that we’ve lived through many recessions in the recent past—1980, 1990, 2001. Even during the Great Depression when the unemployment rate was at 25%, 75% percent of the people in the United States were still employed. Do you see a pattern here? Recessions come and go. Tough times don’t last but tough people do.
In fact, when I look back at my childhood, I can’t believe I’m here today! Conventional wisdom says I never should have survived. Here are just a few of the reasons why:
When I was young, we had no childproof lids on our medicine bottles.
When I rode my bike, I never wore a helmet. We had no helmets.
We played with toy guns—cowboys and Indians, cops and robbers, and war. We used our fingers to simulate guns when the toys ones weren’t available.
Some students weren’t as smart as others or didn’t work as hard so they failed a grade and were actually held back to repeat the same grade.
I can remember saying prayers and the Pledge of Allegiance in school and neither damaged my psyche.
If I remember correctly, and I do, schools didn’t offer 14 year old students an abortion or condoms, and we wouldn’t have known what either was anyway. However, they did give us a couple of aspirin and cough syrup when we had the sniffles. We even had a school nurse … what an archaic school system.
I can’t recall how bored we were without computers, PlayStation, Nintendo, X-box, Wii or 270 digital cable stations. I do remember how we trekked off every day about a mile down the road to a vacant lot, built forts out of branches and pieces of plywood, made trails, and fought over who got to be the Lone Ranger. That kept us busy.
My mom used to defrost hamburger on the counter, and I used to eat it raw sometimes too, but I can’t remember getting E-coli.
She also used to cut chicken, chop eggs and spread mayo on the same cutting board with the same knife and no bleach, but none of us ever got food poisoning.
Believe it or not, my dad drove a car with leaded gas and we all lived.
We often got hurt playing king of the hill on piles of gravel left on vacant construction sites. Mom simply pulled out a 50-cent bottle of Mercurochrome, and then we got our butt spanked. Now it’s a trip to the emergency room, followed by a 10-day dose of a $50 bottle of antibiotics, and then Mom calls the attorney to sue the contractor for leaving a horribly vicious pile of gravel where it was such a threat.
We all took gym, not PE … and risked permanent injury with a pair of high top Ked’s instead of having cross-training athletic shoes with air cushion soles and built in light reflectors. I can’t recall any injuries but they must have happened because they tell us how much safer we are now.
We didn’t act up at the neighbor’s house either because if we did, we got our butt spanked (physical abuse) … and then we got our butt spanked again when we got home.
If we misbehaved, we stayed in detention after school and then paid the price again when we got home and had to explain to our folks.
We had the freedom, failure, success and responsibility, and we learned how to deal with it all. As a result, our generation produced some of the greatest risk-takers and problem solvers known to mankind.
To top it off, not a single person I knew had ever been told that they were from a dysfunctional family. How could we possibly have known that we needed to get into group therapy and anger management classes?
Despite all of the many life-threatening hazards I had to deal with growing up, I managed to survive. I did it then, I’ll do it again. All of us will.
This could be a rough year for a lot of people, but it shouldn’t kill us. Take control of your language, thoughts and feelings, and make your life the way you want it to be. YOU WILL SURVIVE!