by Darrin Schenck


by Darrin Schenck


You may not have heard this before, so I am going to share a great analogy for facing difficulties in life.  Cows and Buffalo, despite being very similar creatures, face one of their largest challenges very differently.

When the wide open prairie offers little to no cover from an impending thunderstorm, cows often panic and run.  They will try to outrun the storm, they will scatter, and get separated from one another, left to face the onslaught of the storm all alone.  By doing so, the increase the suffering.  Not only are they unable to outrun the storm, but because they are moving the same direction as the storm, they actually INCREASE their time under the dark clouds and fierce conditions.  Because of this approach, they are extending their own time in the rough conditions.  And since they panicked and ran away from the rest of the herd, they are going to have to face the scary conditions all alone.

Buffalo do things differently, and in a brilliant way.  First and foremost, they stay together.  They are a herd, a team, and there is strength in numbers.  The smaller and younger members travel inside the circle of adults, gaining shelter from the wind and rain.  They are bearing less impact from the conditions because of the team approach.  A small buffalo is still able to keep up with the charging herd for a long distance, and so its’ position in the herd is not in jeopardy.  They are not going to get left behind because they cannot keep up with the rest, they are able to do so very early in their life and will be able to do so, barring injury or illness, right up until the end of their life.  Secondly, the buffalo will face the adversity of the storm very differently…they will charge towards it.  Yes, you read that correctly, they face the adversity head on, running towards it, knowing that the storm will move past them much more quickly by doing so.  They literally make the storm end sooner for themselves by doing so.

The Buffalo runs towards the storm, knowing they will be out from under the dark clouds sooner by doing so.

This is a great strategy, handed down through DNA for who knows how long.  How far back in their history have buffalo been charging into storms instead of away?  Who knows, but the strategy works for them and it can work for you too.

Obviously the word “storm” can be literal or metaphorical, and in your case, let’s use the metaphorical version.  The storm represents any kind of challenge or difficulty in life.  This could range from getting fired from a job, loss of a loved one, end of a relationship, whatever.  Having a “herd” or a team of people around you that you can lean on can be a huge help to the process of recovery or survival.  Hopefully you are not truly on your own; with technology today it is easier to maintain relationships over distance and still gain the support that you need.  If you move out of state for a new job, you can call, text, and video chat with friends from your home town as often as they are available.  This will help take the edge off of the pain you are feeling, having uprooted and moved to a new place with which you are unfamiliar, until you feel settled in.  Another “storm” is the end of a relationship, say you break up with someone you have been dating for a while.  This is tough, we have all been there, and some are much tougher situations than others.  If you were the breakee, meaning not your idea to end the relationship, you probably feel gutted by the news.  Everything around you reminds you of what used to be but no longer is.  Songs on the XM channel you love, items around the house and more, all of it rips the scab off once again.  This is another scenario where I hope you have friends and family to lean on in your time of need.  If things get really bad for you, there are other options such as virtual therapy and even the suicide hotline which is as simple as dialing 988 on your phone.

But here is what you DO NOT want to do in this situation, and that is try to rebound too soon.

There is a really old saying that has likely caused way more pain than it has relieved, and it goes like this:

The best way to get over someone is to get under someone else.

Sorry for the semi-crude analogy, but this phrase has been uttered since the dawn of civilization.  And it is terrible advice…trust me on this.  I tried it, and it DOES NOT WORK.  You need time, time to heal, to get your feet under your again, and to rebuild what has been temporarily broken.   Diving into a new relationship right after one ended is a recipe for disaster.  A clinical psychologist will tell you that for every year you spent with someone, you will need the same number of months of time to heal.  So, a five year relationship means that its gonna be five months minimum to get emotionally recovered and ready to think about dating again.   I can attest that alone time after a break up is critical to getting yourself sorted out once again.  It ain’t easy, but it is the right way to go about it.  Do not turn and charge into the storm too soon, otherwise you are likely to find yourself in recovery mode all over again very soon.  What you THINK you need (want) is for someone to plug that gaping wound in your heart and soul, but this cannot be done quickly.  YOU need to repair most of that damage yourself, and then you can start to look around for someone new to spend time with.

ONCE you have done some time on your own, really sat with the thoughts and feelings you have (turn and run towards them) and evaluated what happened, what you did wrong, what they did wrong, and how to learn from the experience, only then should you consider yourself ready to go out into the dating world once again.  If you are dealing with the loss of a loved one, that hole in your heart will never fully close, and to some degree it shouldn’t.  If you truly loved someone, there is no replacing them completely in your life.  You’ll learn to accept the loss, and slowly the pain will subside.  But in some ways, the fact that it always hurts is a reminder of just how much they meant to you, and this will keep you from losing sight of that completely.  I still miss my grandmother to this day, and she has been gone for almost 15 years now.  I can still picture walking out of the church at her funeral, sitting in my car, crying my eyes out.  Her leaving my life when she did was best for her, as she had been in pain and fought off pancreatic cancer for almost three and a half years.  She was tired, she put up an amazing fight, but no one gets out alive.  Her time had come, and she slipped off quietly in her sleep.  Peaceful and pain-free at last.  I miss her terribly some days, even now.  That hole in my heart will never fully close.  But the thoughts of her still make me feel close to her even to this day, despite the tinge of pain hidden underneath.

Whatever hardships you face in life, and yes, there will be more than a few, keep the above in mind.  Don’t be like a cow, running scared and alone right along with the storm.  Be like a buffalo, and run towards what you are facing.  Do it in a measured fashion, but be strong enough to face your fears head on and get through those dark days more quickly.  Lean on your herd to get through those times, and be there when someone else needs you to shelter them from the storm when its their turn.  This is how life works, undeniably so, and the sooner you can learn this method of dealing with things, the better off you will be.

There is no such thing as a life worth living that doesn’t involve some level of risk and chance,

and these can lead to the occasional heartbreak.  How you treat yourself and deal with these times

will be a distinct measure of how you live your life in general. 


I wish you luck in your endeavors.

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