I had fun with this one. I was thinking about optimism in the face of adversity and misfortune; in other words, making the best of whatever the circumstances are. I tend to think like this anyway, which is rather amusing since my family calls me ‘The Catastrophe Queen’ because of my habit of thinking about the worst that could happen in any situation and planning for that. If it doesn’t happen, Bonus! I get to experience gratitude, relief, satisfaction (because everyone knows that planning for catastrophe means it won’t happen …right?).
Anyway, I Googled the proverb, and ended up having a very amusing few moments.
“If life gives you lemons, throw them back. Really, really hard.”
“Unless life also gives you sugar and water, your lemonade is going to suck.”
“When life gives you lemons, forget lemonade. Make sweet tea and squeeze those suckers.”
“When life gives you lemons, make orange juice and refuse to tell life how you did it.”
“When life gives you lemons, keep them because, ‘Hey, free lemons.’
The thing I was thinking when I was pondering this proverb is how to keep going when life is bitterly hard. It’s one thing to try and make the best of a “bad” situation, but sometimes, “bad” is just too horrible to dress up as anything else.
This is Breast Cancer Awareness month. The whole month is dedicated, almost world wide, to raising people’s knowledge and understanding about this devastating diagnosis (and lest the men stop reading at this point, men get breast cancer, too.) Yes, yes, they do. So listen up.
Being diagnosed with cancer, any cancer, sucks lemons. It’s bitter, nasty, and impossible to swallow. The ‘lemonade’ is what we do with that bitter fruit. ‘Water’ is the medical expertise; the doctors, nurses, therapists, and other professionals whose knowledge and dedication dilute that bitter juice to make it palatable Sugar’ is the support; friends and family …everyone pulling for effective treatment, for a solution, for a cure. Those people who sneak brownies into the hospital room in the middle of the night; hold hands while someone throws up yesterday’s breakfast; it’s sweetness of the rotating roster of loved ones who sit and read the latest gossip or hunting magazine out loud while the chemo is dripping. No one is thankful for a catastrophic diagnosis such as this. No one. It’s ridiculous to even think that, or to expect to “find the silver lining” in this cloud. That’s not what I’m talking about here.
If “attitude is the mind’s paintbrush,” then it is the attitude we have when lemons fall out of the sky into our laps that is critical. Cancer isn’t personal. It’s part of life; part of the risk of being human. There’s all sorts of research that proves that a positive or optimistic attitude toward the resolution of negative events is helpful in living with a bitter reality.
How do I know this?
My friend Lianne got a whole bucket load of lemons. She made lemonade. We loved her, laughed with her, cried with her, and supported her as she made the most of a life overwhelmed with free lemons; sharing herself with her friends and family as she fought breast cancer. When the lemonade was gone, but the cancer remained, Lianne told us all how good her life had been, and the big part we had in making such great lemonade. My memories of Lianne are bittersweet, just as one would expect.
This is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Don’t put it off any longer. Go and get a check -up, and when it’s all clear (as most of them are) go have some mango juice or something because life is all out of lemons for today.