The Most Powerful Question I Know

The Most Powerful Question I Know

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I was parked under a tree on my lunch hour, talking to my best friend of 39 years on my cell phone relating the details of a family disagreement that had me in tears.

She did her job, siding with me just enough to make me feel better without letting me tilt my crown of thorns at too jaunty an angle.

After I vented and she empathized, we signaled permission to move away from the subject with our shared, go-to question:

“Well…what are ya gonna do?”

This question was rhetorical in this case, but isn’t always. If you can ask it with a practical, Midwestern accent, a slight shoulder shrug and an easy eye-roll to the left, all the better. Either way, it gets the job done.

The Most Powerful Question I Know Suzanne M. Brazil

What is the job? The job is survival. Dealing with crap days and acknowledging you will survive. It’s getting on with things. After all, resiliency is the latest buzz word of parenting experts and self-help gurus. Grit is the new black.

Here are just a few situations where this magical question comes in handy.

You have a fight with your husband. You’re hurt, you’re furious, you’re scared. So you ask yourself, a friend, or the air:

“Well, what are ya gonna do?”

Possible answers include: 1. Kill him. 1(b) Hire someone to kill him. 2. Move out. 3. Get counseling. 4. Let it go.

Of course there are myriad variations but those four options cover the basics.

The Most Powerful Question I Know

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You have a flat tire on a deserted freeway at night and you’re wearing a skirt and high heels and have no cell phone. So you cry, imagining the horrors that await you in the dark and then you ask:

“Well…what are ya gonna do?”

Possible answers include: 1. Stay in the car waiting for police or your superhero husband to master ESP.  2. Get out and walk to a nearby establishment with a public phone.  3. Get out and try to change it yourself.

Need one more example?

The best grandfather in the world dies a painless, natural death after 84 years. You cry, you laugh at the funny way he fell asleep in the chair and the crooked pinky on his right hand and you regret the time you didn’t get to spend with him. Then you or your sibling (the one you love with whom you’re in an argument) wipes away a tear and asks:

“Well…what are ya gonna do?”

Possible answers include: 1. Keep crying until you’re hysterically depressed. 2. Blame yourself and regret not spending more time with him. 2. Wash your face, take some aspirin, make dinner, and commit to sharing his memory and spending more time with the loved ones you still have.

In each of these real life examples, it’s the timing and the break required to ask the question that keep you from getting stuck.

Sometimes, the answers you come up with make you think long and hard about the situation and force you to take responsibility for forward movement in your life. Sometimes, they just make you feel silly. So your husband didn’t buy you a card for your birthday. Are you really moving out? If no, then you need to deal with it. But you’ve brought down the threat from DEFCON 4 to something more reasonable.

The Most Powerful Question I Know

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I’ve always valued the question as a coping mechanism. It’s like a speed bump. Things are bad, they may be getting worse, and you certainly feel bad or are feeling worse. But just before you ramp up into full hysteria, you exhale and ask:

“Well…what are ya gonna do?”

The question was passed down to me and my siblings from my practical mom. Life is too tough to get away with whining, and we are too fortunate to get away with moaning about things that don’t go your way. Even on catastrophic days, eventually, asking the question diffuses the terror. It’s a safety valve.

Everyone needs a release, a way to expel the pressure that builds up when life gets messed up.

But then it’s time to wash your hands, call it a day and get back to living.

The tide comes in, the tide goes out. This too shall pass.

The Most Powerful Question I Know


4 Thoughts on “The Most Powerful Question I Know

  1. A very good question Suzanne, and one that I have asked myself many times over the years! Thank you for reminding me to STOP… and COOL down, before wading in like the Taurean that I am!! :O It’s a good lesson to re-learn.

    Hugs to you,

    The Hedgehog x

    • Thanks, Hedgey (ey, y only, couldn’t decide!) Life waits for no one, LOL, better all get on board. And by the way, I had to look up Taurean (assumed something to do with Taurus, bull, zodiac but you know what happens when you assume)!

  2. barb armstrong on June 28, 2015 at 7:46 am said:

    I must give uncle jim the credit for this too shall pass, and the rest goes to you for being the person you are!
    after all, what are you going to do?????


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