Surviving Life's Storms

Weathering the Storms of Life – A Dedication to my Cousin

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I thought I would do something special for this blog post. I thought I would share with everyone an essay that my cousin Brian wrote back in 2000. First, however, I want to talk about my cousin.

My cousin Brian Stafford was one of the most amazing people that I ever knew. He was intelligent, extremely intelligent. He had a big heart and a deep soul. He was funny. Most importantly, he was the one person that I knew that lived in my often times hectic and crazy family with me. As such, be he realized$ it or not, I many times turned to him as a source of comfort and support. He was roughly four years younger than me.

I’m not sure what happened. Perhaps it was just life itself. I lost contact with my cousin when I left for college. I have not heard from him or heard anything of him for almost 14 years now. That’s a hard pill for me to swallow, as I can honestly and truly say that he was more than a cousin to me – he was many times my best friend, akin to a brother, and someone that challenged me to be a better person. I’ve tried to find him on Facebook, MySpace, and in other ways, but his life since then and today remains a mystery to me.

My hope is that someday he stumbled upon this blog post and realizes that I do miss him. That I would love to get together with him. I digress however. Below is the essay that he wrote for a teen advice website that I once ran. To this day I still find it enlightening and inspiring, and I hope that the rest of you will as well.

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“Rainbow”

by Brian Stafford

I Know
There Is A Rainbow
For Me To Follow
To Get Beyond My Sorrow
Thunder
Precedes The Sunlight
So I’ll Be Alright
If I Can Find That
Rainbow’s End
In A Perfect World
Human Beings Would Coexist
Harmoniously
Like A Rainbow
A Multitude Of Colors
Each Layer Vibrant And Clear By Itself
But In Unison……
Boundless, Breathless, Celestial
Unfortunately, we are not living in the land of utopia. The society in which we live is a very diverse one, with nearly six billion inhabitants; each struggling to thrive in a world so plagued by chaos. All around us are obstacles, which prevent us from realizing our dreams and developing our potential. It is however, comforting to know that those obstacles can be overcome. Reaching your metaphorical “pot of gold” is in essence like life. It is a journey; with many steps along the way. It is a journey that can be addressed in areas of focus such as: Cloudy Skies, The Storm, and finally, Rainbow.

It’s a perfectly sunny day. There isn’t a cloud in sight. You’re relaxing beneath a shade tree sipping freshly squeezed, ice cold lemonade, without a care in the world. You’re living the American dream. You drive your perfect car from your perfect house to your perfect job so you can support your perfect family and lead the perfect life.

But as you sit beneath that shade tree daydreaming of what could have been, reality sets in. The mortgage is past due, you just received a disconnecting notice on your lights, and that very morning you discovered that your spouse has been having an affair for the past year. Some American dream.

With so much negativity in the air, something’s got to give. Suddenly the sky turns an eerie shade of black, and in the distance you can hear the thunder. A storm is rapidly approaching. “God what did I do to get myself into this mess?” you ask.

The answer? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. Call it destiny. Call it fate. Call it life. Throughout our existence, we will all at one point or another have to go through trying times- storm if you will. Weathering the storm depends upon how prepared you are. So often, people are unprepared to meet the challenges they must face in today’s complicated society.

In a world so cold; so filled with darkness, despair, and uncertainty, we tend to seek refuge in whatever source of stability we can find. Often times we search outside ourselves for answers that lie within.

I can’t think of anything that better conveys this message than Mariah Carey’s 1993 chart- topping ballad, “Hero.”

There’s a Hero
If You Search Inside Your Heart
You Don’t Have To Be Afraid
Of What You Are

There’s An Answers
If You Look Inside Your Soul
And The Sorrow That You Know
Will Melt Away

And Then A Hero Comes Along
With The Strength To Carry On
And You Cast Your Fears Aside
And You Know You Can Survive

So When You Feel Like Hope Is Gone
Look Inside You And Be Strong
And You’ll Finally See The Truth
That A Hero Lies In You

There comes a point in each person’s life when no amount of love and support from outside sources can give us what we need. It may seem like all hope is lost, like there’s no point in continuing the struggle, and giving up is the best option. This is the time when we must reach deep inside ourselves and find our own strengths … and discover the hero within.

Too many storms have come and gone without a glimpse of sunlight. Don’t let this happen to you. You have the opportunity to make a change. When the blue skies turn gray, and the storm clouds roll in … have no fear. Because all you must do is search inside for the hero within. And you can make it through any storm no matter how severe. And always … always remember: After every storm, if you look hard enough, a rainbow will appear.

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