Life’s little disappointments


On Monday, the nation experienced an eclipse. Well, some of the nation did. I knew that a total eclipse would not be seen in my area but I had expectations that there would be at least a partial eclipse. Our “eclipse” was so minor as to go unnoticed by most people who were outside. Had I not known there was one, I would have been completely unaware of it.

Life is full of little disappointments. I am a long-suffering Tennessee Volunteers football fan. Every season brings forth new hope and ends in disappointment. Yet, I continue to support and hope.

I have been to movies that critics gave high marks and walked out before it was over, having spent money both on tickets and popcorn and a drink.

I enjoyed Eddie Murphy’s comedy on such films as “Beverly Hills Cop” and others but the flick, “Eddie Murphy Raw,” was so vulgar that I walked out. I still don’t understand why alleged comedians have to resort to potty-mouth language and vulgarity to appear funny. It says a lot about the crowd who likes that sort of thing.

Another movie that was disappointing was “Eyes Wide Shut” with Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman. Two great actors, one disappointing movie.

And so it goes. Little disappointments that don’t ruin our life but leave a sour taste for a short while. Some people cannot handle even the minor disappointments. When I was taking a class at the police academy in Fulton County years ago, the instructor told the story of a man disappointed with the results of an Atlanta Falcons football game.

The man was watching the game and, I suspect, having more than a few beers, and when the Falcons lost the game (again), he became enraged. He began yelling and cursing and took his emotional trauma outside on the porch. He even fired off a few rounds from a handgun.

This of course brought out the police. The officers tried to calm him down and directed him to lay the gun on the floor, but the enraged man took a shot at the officers. This is never a good idea.

The officers returned fire and a bullet struck the man in the elbow and the man wound up losing his arm at the shattered elbow.

The instructor of the class shook his head and said, “That man lost his arm over a football game.” No, hundreds of millions of people have experienced the loss of a game by a favorite football team. But most people get over it rather quickly. The man lost his arm due to an abnormal reaction to a minor disappointment.

There is a way to handle minor disappointments, I think. After all, the fact that I did not experience the eclipse really has no effect on my life. Neither do a few bad movies or TV shows. I still hope for a football championship for Tennessee, but my life goes on even if it never happens.

Major disappointments take longer to get past. A divorce, the death of a loved one, the loss of a job, and other serious disappointments that really do affect or change our lives take more time, perhaps years to deal with those situations.

But, even in the aftermath of those, most people continue to eventually move forward into the new reality and live their lives. All of us bear the internal scars of those disappointments if they happen to us.

But life consists of more than minor or major disappointments. Life is filled with unexpected and unanticipated joys and surprises too. It’s what we do with the situations we encounter that makes all the difference. We can shrug and turn off the TV if our team loses or we can grab a gun and shoot at the police. The first is a normal response, the second is decidedly not a normal response.

In 1963, funny man Ray Stevens recorded a serious song entitled, “Just One of Life’s Little Tragedies.” The man in the song has experienced a serious loss. Yet the song says in part, “It’s just one of life’s little tragedies. Soon the memory will pass away…”

Well, the memory may or may not. But the future beckons and our lives are “out there,” not “back there” unless we choose to linger or even live “back there.” And that would indeed be a major tragedy. Keep moving forward. Life has good things ahead.

[David Epps is the Rector of the Cathedral of Christ the King ( Worship services are on Sundays at 10:00 a.m. and on livestream at He is the bishop of the Diocese of the Mid-South ( He may be contacted at He has been a weekly opinion columnist for the The Citizen for over 27 years.]