A few weeks ago I got wrangled into looking at a link entitled something like 'The most popular tattoos of 2014.' Lots of line drawings, geometrical shapes, angel wings (really? still popular eh?) and text phrases, the most popular of which was "this too shall pass." The origin of the adage goes back to Medieval Sufi poets. Its tenure thereafter has plenty of folklore about kings and rings and the eternal torment of sad and happy men alike. The modern reclamation I think leans heavily on the relief from woe more-so than balanced perspective amidst grandeur. A friend recently posted about a hardship she was dealing with on Facebook, and almost like it couldn't not be there, amidst the comments, someone wrote "this too shall pass." In this instance, it seemed snide, patronizing, and devoid of wisdom. Almost the same as saying: "you'll get over it."
We're raising a three year old. A strong willed three year old. That's a term people use now. She's had a hard week. Well, maybe we've had a hard week, she's probably pretty okay. Many of our tried and true tricks are wearing off and need to be re-tooled, which is a dismal realization when we're in the throes of meltdown city. Until this week I feel like I've been able to keep a pretty good perspective on how affected she is by her age. She's trying to find her way, understand how the world works, and assert a sense of control. This makes sense to me. But she's found some buttons I didn't quite know existed. In my most deflated moments I start wondering about grim possibilities: What if she's ADHD? Did I do something that makes her fear me? What if these are signs of her being a future troubled teen? Worry! Worry! Worry! But she's three, I can't forget that. Plenty of time for all sorts of revelations, good and bad, that I probably shouldn't start worrying about now.
The other day on the NPR show, Fresh Air, Terry Gross was interviewing two of the three girls who escaped from kidnapper Ariel Castro's home in Cleveland, in 2012, after nearly ten years of captivity. Presumed dead, the world was shocked to hear all three of these girls, now women, were alive and still in Cleveland. The interview was nothing short of devastating to listen to. Chains, rape, pregnancy, garbage-can toilets...ugly, ugly stuff. To hear these women speak of their attempts at returning to 'normal' life, their courage, their perspective, was just incredible! With the help of a journalist turned close friend, they have a memoir scheduled for release. I wonder if this too shall pass ever entered their minds as they endured their crises.
As one of the stories goes, an Eastern Monarch assembled a band of wise-men and tasked them with the job of creating a phrase to reflect upon which should be "true and appropriate" in every situation for all of time. Though I think we can agree it's overused, you know, twenty-somethings all over the country are tattooing it in Hebrew or vintage type-writer fonts, it still holds weight. Flippantly posted as a clever quip or solve-all without any compassion behind it, this time-tested combination of words can seem coarse. But when I strip away my petty grievances of it being so 'emo,' or 'pop,' it still cuts through to the truth none of us can escape. Truly, unequivocally, all of this, our fears of failure, our traumas, our petty judgements, will come to pass. Depending on the moment I suppose that may inspire joy or sorrow, hopefully more of the former.