I used to shuffle playing cards to deal with stuff. A battered deck of cards would do, of course, but if the problem was huge, sometimes I’d have to spring a couple of bucks for a new deck. This habit turned into a collection. In this collection, which I still own, twenty-seven decks have survived purges, relocations, and card loss.
The grimy decks are the ones that have seen my most difficult times. They’ve been shuffled, reshuffled, then shuffled again. They’ve seen more than one particular heartbreak or helped me muddle through more than one difficult decision. They’re my veteran decks, some of which have traveled with me since middle school. My fresher soldiers, the decks that have thus far only served as tools in family game nights or drinking games, have yet to shuffle for a greater cause. There are no tear-stains on their numbers, no sweat on their suits.
The last few weeks, I’ve felt that urge to shuffle again. I’ve not shuffled cards in this way for years, I’d guess. I’ve not bought a crisp deck and sat down on the floor to shuffle, shuffle, shuffle until the hurt abates. There is hurting right now, though, and I sense it needs to be shuffled out.
The reason I relay this short story to you is because the urge to shuffle is a sign to me that I’m experiencing real hurt right now. There are decisions and emotions and experiences currently whirling about me that are inflicting pain, hence the nostalgia toward my forgotten collection and the strain toward renewing my shuffling habit.
One particular action I like to take when the hurt is deep or when life begins to feel stuffy is to remind others that they’re going to be okay. It sounds so backwards, but I often find it difficult to find a voice when addressing my own pain. Knowing this, I reach out and try to ease the pain of others as a way of reminding my own self that somehow, someway, it will be okay.
You’re smart enough to know that eventually, you’ll be okay. Maybe you won’t be the okay you imagined you would be, but you’ll be some version of okay. That matters. I just want to remind you, though, in case logic isn’t rising above the pain right now. I want to take this few minutes to tell you that you’ll be okay, some version of it.
And I want to thank you for letting me say it, because, in a small way, it helps me too.