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Craig: Chart your own path

by Steven Craig

Do you remember Carrie Fisher? That name strike a bell? As a Star Wars devotee since the age of five, I certainly do. Like many other “Star Wars” groupies – many of whom still live in their parents’ basements doing little but surfing the internet for “babes” and eating stale Doritos – Princess Leia was one of my first crushes. I can still hear the pitter-patter of the longing of my first grade heart upon first seeing her on that drive-in movie screen in Maine in 1976. Thus when I happened to be flipping past Ms. Fisher’s recent one-woman show on HBO, “Wishful Drinking,” I was curious enough about where her life had gone to watch.

As you may know, Fisher not only penned a highly praised novel – “Postcards from the Edge,” later turned into a successful film – she based much of this story on her marriage to and subsequent divorce from singer/songwriter Paul Simon. Coming from a Hollywood family that had its share of tumultuous and painful upheaval, Fisher was not new to such troubling matters of the heart, but the divorce rocked her being nonetheless. Yes, Carrie Fisher has led an eventful life both before and after being turned into a cultural icon. It was not her story, however, that so intrigued me; it was her reaction to it that has had me thinking all week.

During the show, Fisher discusses at great length and specificity the pain and bitterness she felt as her relationship with Simon came to a screeching halt. At first, she was angry and wanted little more than to watch Simon suffer. Then, while in rehab coping with the drug and alcohol addiction that coincided with her depression, she came to a startling realization. As she puts it, “I realized that resentment is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.” Well stated, Carrie.

After all, we can only control ourselves and our own behavior. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, there will always be people out there who treat you poorly. Perhaps they cheat on you, or steal your finances, or speak poorly of you behind your back. As we all know, these things will never change, and it is highly unlikely that your behavior will alter their future decisions.

What you can control, however, is your reaction. What I have learned is to never relinquish your ability to decide your mood, fate, and actions to another, especially when that person has proven to not have your best interest at heart. You get to decide how will respond to their negativity. How many children of divorce have had their lives ripped apart as their parents face off in a battle of who can act worse? Instead, what they should do is find the human decency to work together towards finding mutually acceptable terms to their separation that will allow their children to see that, even if you are no longer a couple, you can still work together.

In discussing this with a friend over the weekend, they said to me, “The best revenge is living well.” The sad part about this is that we seem to define our own happiness after such turmoil only in relative terms to the happiness quotient of the other party. In so doing, we have given that other party the one thing we are struggling so much to take from them: the ability to manipulate our emotions. My advice: Sympathize with their inability to move on in a healthy, productive manner and then turn your other cheek to the harsh winds that will allow you to chart your own path towards happiness and self-identity.

Steven Craig is a Silverthorne resident, educator, husband and father of two, and president of the Summit County Library Board. He can be reached at: scraig8888@yahoo.com


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