Today is my baby’s birthday. I wrote this post a few months ago and didn’t post it for a pile of irrelevant reasons. I’ve updated it a little bit given what’s now happening in the world, but I’m a little amazed with how relevant this post is given what’s happening with COVID-19. Enjoy.
One of the most frequent question I have gotten over the past year is “Lydia, why did you name your book Wait, It Gets Worse?” Practically every book talk I give. It’s usually preambled with, “you sound so optimistic, so…” “Wouldn’t it be better to have said, Wait, It Gets Better?” “Clearly you lived, so it didn’t get THAT bad…”
Even though my little girl turns one today, her name is only about 18 months old. The working title for a long time was Unfinished, and it then took a turn towards Burn the Boats. But when my publisher and I were brainstorming title ideas, both of those fell to the wayside, and this one rose to the surface. Primarily because it was the only one that made both of us laugh out loud. But then we had to come up with why? Why is this title so perfect for my little memoir?
Have you ever KNOWN something is right, even if you can’t really explain it?
The answer I give in my epilogue only scratches the surface. I still hadn’t lived with it for long enough. So, after living with this title for 18 months and talking about it for 12, here’s my evolving answer.
My life fell apart during those three years I talk about in my little memoir that could. In every way. My marriage. My health. My relationship with my career. My health (again). I had 12 doctors at one of the best trauma units in the world trying to save my life at one point. And from those depths, I had to rebuild. But you know what I also needed to do as my life was spiraling downwards? I needed to learn to become a kind, compassionate, loving human being while my life was falling apart. Because I may not have survived. And you know what would have been a truly horrific way to die? If my last act while bleeding out on that hospital bed was to yell at a doctor who was just doing his best to save my life.
So in every moment while my life was tumbling down, I had to learn how to be kind. Because life ALWAYS gets worse. And then sometimes it gets better. And then, at the end, we all die.
And, for what it’s worth, when you want people to pick up your book, Wait, It Might Get Worse or It Might Get Better but Either Way, Be Kind, doesn’t really cut it.
What kind of human do you want to be during your brief time here? Controlling? Punishing? Vindictive? Overwhelmed? Angry? Or kind, loving, compassionate, present, generous, and filled with purpose? Are you mostly kind except when “someone has really screwed up?” OR “the world has gone to shit?” OR “I just saw a picture of a kangaroo burned alive while trapped against a fence?” OR “the President of the United States is lying to all of us all the time, and it’s literally killing us?”
I challenge you to consider that these moments are exactly when we all need to be kind. Present. Thoughtful. Generous. Notice I didn’t say nice — hard problems require hard solutions and they often aren’t pretty and usually someone is upset. Notice I didn’t say it was easy. Notice I also didn’t say you’d get it right all the time (I certainly don’t). But I think we can have a practice of choosing to be kind through those moments. (Which often involves taking care of that person who’s upset.) And even though the solutions to our problems aren’t obvious, at least we are living up to the best of who we are. Because I’m beginning to think that RIGHT NOW is the moment that we’ve all been practicing being kind for.