One of my favorite quotes from a movie comes from As Good As It Gets. I’ve always loved Jack Nicholson’s character, Melvin Udall, and his ability to break things down to an uncomfortably basic level. At one point in the movie Melvin, Simon and Carol are on a road trip to Baltimore as Simon is explaining his estrangement from his parents to his travel companions. Carol states that everybody has horrible stories to get over.
Since first seeing this movie on Valentine’s Day in 1998, I have heard Melvin’s reply when I hear people focusing on all the negative that has happened in their life.
It’s not true. Some people have great stories, pretty stories that take place at lakes with boats and friends and noodle salad. Just no one in this car. But, a lot of people, that’s their story. Good times, noodle salad. What makes it so hard is not that you had it bad, but that you’re that pissed that so many others had it so good.
My life has certainly not always been good times and noodle salad, but the past couple of years I’ve been making a concentrated effort to have more noodle salad to make up for the times like I’m having now (not horrific, but not great). I try not to dwell on the negative and I don’t broadcast every bad thing that happens in my life. Everybody is going to go through hardships, some more so than others, but you can’t live in it and it’s definitely not doing anybody any good to focus on everybody who seems to have it better.
There will be adversity. You will be faced with uncertainty, hard decisions and heartbreak. You will be held accountable for your mistakes, people will hurt you and, believe it or not, whether you mean to or not, you will probably hurt other people. In the midst of all of this, try to remind yourself that there are good times and noodle salad to be had, even if you have to make them yourself.