Last week, I went to meet my next-door neighbor. He retired from the Indian Forest Service a few years ago and one of his last posts had been as the Director of the Indira Gandhi National Forest Academy. It’s right here in Dehradun, but he said he never went there even to visit these days because he finds it “too depressing”.

“Everything is air-conditioned!” he said contemptuously. “The students sit in swivel chairs! The grounds are landscaped now, with fountains and ornamental plants. Do you think these softies are going to be able to survive in an Indian forest? What are they being prepared for?”

A hard life is – well – hard. It’s demanding. It gets you up in the middle of the night. It doesn’t allow you much free time and it sabotages almost every careful plan you make. But it makes you tough. It makes you resilient. It teaches you to be ready. It makes it possible for you to cope with whatever comes your way.

An easy life, as lovely as it might be when everything is – well – easy, doesn’t prepare you for anything. On the contrary, it makes you think you are special, entitled, deserving. It leaves you baffled when hard things happen. It leaves you looking around for someone to blame; someone to turn to; someone who will step in and “do the needful” because you’ve never had to do that yourself.

The Easy Life, even though we all think we want one, doesn’t serve us particularly well. Because Hard Things do happen. Children get sick. Parents get old. Fortunes are lost. Jobs are scarce. We need to cope and Easy Lives are no help then.

Girl looking down, Mom smiling, looking at camera

I am talking myself into the idea that my hard life is a blessing; that having a child with profound disability actually makes us all (child with profound disability included) clever, strong and resilient. We have seen a LOT. We don’t tell you about it all because we want to protect you. We don’t want to upset you so we almost never mention chest physio, impacted bowels, tube feeding or intractable seizures. What purpose would it serve?

But these things are the stuff of our daily lives. So if you’ve got a problem – if you need a job, or you are going through a divorce, or you are sliding into credit card debt or alcoholism – you can talk to us. We’ve been through worse. We have one Sweet yet Hard Life and we know what you are going through.





Showing 3 comments
  • Dee

    Here’s my question and it’s a dumb one; the facilities in the first world make it possible to tap so much more than what I can do for my children so how do I word my life?

    • Jo Chopra McGowan

      Dee, I live in the third world too. The facilities that matter the most are inside. We carry them wherever we go, whatever world we inhabit.

  • Banno

    Jo, you always render me speechless. The beauty of your writing of course, is its truth.

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