Life Advice



Barton Goldsmith: When a lot goes wrong at the same time

Barton Goldsmith, Tribune News Service on

Published in Dating Advice

If everything is really not OK and you struggle to keep it together despite temporary setbacks, then you are life-juggling.

Has there ever been a time when more was going wrong in the world? How could so much wrong not have a direct impact on our lives? Well, like it or not, it’s having an impact. And if anything more is added to the mix, it can make keeping things together even more difficult, and that’s saying a lot.

For example, I just said no to a publisher who wanted me to write a book for them. That’s never happened before. They just asked for too much and offered too little — no big deal, right? Of course, a part of me is saying I’ll never get another offer, but I think that particular fear is fairly normal among creative types. Still, it was an uncomfortable decision, but the right one considering what else is going on in the world and in my life.

That experience brought up other memories of people trying to get one over on me. Yes, I have been swindled, lied to and manipulated by people I have contracted with and people I have loved — and thankfully I’ve survived to tell the tale. Unfortunately, right now, I’m finding a lot to be less than happy about with some of today’s COVID-life business practices. To me, it just seems like more people have their hustle on than ever before.

For example, our car has nearly 100,000 miles on it because trying to buy a new one, even for the sticker price, is next to impossible. If you want one now, the price is substantially higher with newly added fees, and ordering online isn’t really working because there aren’t any cars. So we will have to wait or get a second mortgage. Hey, I’m grateful my car is still running fine, and I’m willing to wait for the right vehicle (we want to go electric). Again, I can accept it, but the only person who is happy about this is my mechanic, who now charges more than the dealership. True story, and I don’t think it’s going to change.


If you’ve needed a veterinary specialist, like we did recently, they are very hard to find, and their fees have gone way up too. Now they tack on an additional “emergency” fee (not covered by pet insurance) if you want to see the vet in 10 days. If you don’t pay the fee, the wait is at least a month. I’m in the helping profession, and I have been booked to the rafters, but I have never charged an extra fee if someone needed to see me, and I never charge if someone has to cancel last minute due to illness — but I had to sign three times acknowledging that the vet’s fee was nonrefundable. Oh, and I will never actually see the vet, because he examined the cat and called us while we waited in our car. Now it will be a week to a month before he can do the procedure. On the positive side, he doesn’t think it’s cancer and is willing to do the surgery, so I’m grateful.

Like I said, when there is too much going on, the whole process feels emotionally confusing. I know a lot of human beings are going through much worse experiences; many heart and cancer patients have been put on hold due to the pandemic, and many have died as a result. Life is harder than it was; it’s more complicated, more expensive and more frustrating. I feel like we are navigating in a different dimension half the time.

It’s important to get perspective. It doesn’t even have to be a positive perspective, but it does need to be proactive. Having perspective is about making things better where you can and accepting it as best you can when things don’t go the way you want them to. I know it sounds too simple, but for me it’s helping a little, and it’s still a work in progress.

The only good part about having multiple problems is that when one overshadows the others, the others seem less overwhelming. It also sets your priorities straight. There is so much you can choose to be upset about with the whole world right now; maybe just putting your focus on what’s going on in your own little world is enough for you to deal with. At least for the moment, I know that’s the case for me.

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