Ever notice how sometimes when you really want to do something good for someone in a bad circumstance, instead of doing good, you only end up inflicting more wounds? It's like that old bit of Polish wisdom that says you should never try to rescue a drowning person that is conscious. They'll take you down with them. See, that would be bad for both of you.
So, here's what happened to me. I have this friend who is continually making the same mistakes over and over again. Now, this is a very lovable person, but the repetition is getting a little old. So, I thought I would help him out by giving him the best lesson I've learned this past year, and I learned it from Captain Jack Sparrow. You remember, he's the staggering swaggering swashbuckling heart-throb of the blockbuster kiddie hit "Pirates of the Caribbean." There's this scene where he tells innocent Will Turner that his father was the black-guard pirate, Bootstrap Bill. Of course, Will threw a fit and Capt. Jack had him literally out on a limb in moments. The next words out of his mouth were profound ones. He said, "There are only two things that matter in this life, matey. What a man can do and what a man can't do. Now, you can hang there sputtering about your old man or you can accept your fate and help me dock this ship at Isle de Morta." Or some such gibberish as that. But the important part is the first part. That whole what a man can and what a man can't do part. That, matey, is profound.
You see, we expend a ton of energy contemplating the what if's of life. And, in reality, most of our what if's boil down to how other people are going to act - or react - to the decisions we make in life. As if the what if's determine whether the outcome of our decision or action is successful or not. It does not! We are absolutely in no way capable of controlling the decisions that other people make. We can not even influence the decisions other people make most of the time. The truth is, people do what they want to do, whether they want to admit it or not. All we can do is choose our own actions and responses. In the end, you see, it is not what they do but what we are going to do about it that matters.
The choice is ours. We can choose to accept things the way they are or choose to make things different. In the end, we can't make people do what we want them to do. We can't make people accept the decisions we make. But what we can do is know ourselves well enough to make decisions that we can live with, regardless of the circumstances. And we can only do that once we know 1. what we can live with and 2. what we can live without.
And this place, people, is absolute freedom. It is freedom because it gives us the power to say, "Hey! This is what I want, this is what I need and if you can't accept it, you can go to the deuces." The reality is, no one lives our life but us, ourselves. What we can live with and what we can live without is a complex amalgam of our personality, circumstances, inherent temperament, childhood scars and current resources. No one can assimilate that complexity for you, therefore no one is qualified to tell you what the resulting "live with" or "live without" should be. It is just you and the person you shave with every morning. We all need to get to a place where we can look at that person we shave with every morning, right in the eye, and like what we see. But if you look that person in the eye every morning and ask, "WTF are you doing, you stupid asshole?!?" chances are you need to make some choices. And changes.
And if you choose to NOT make a choice, and if you choose NOT to make some changes, the least you could do is just try not to take anyone else down with you on the way, drowning man. You've got a lifeline. Pull yourself to shore.