I want to open this article with a thank you, well, many actually. In the interest of organization, which is what I am supposed to be very good at, here is a bulleted list of them:
- Thank you, literally you, for reading this. I'm just some stranger who regularly pours their soul onto a blank page on the internet, and by reading this you are giving me some strange form of validation and worth.
- Thank you for supporting me with all of the kind comments and feedback about the things that I write. Every comment helps me improve and learn.
- Thank you for talking to me and giving me ideas to write about. I am inspired by your words and there is nothing more real than shared excitement.
- Thank you for pushing me to write about things that are difficult. To start the conversation is possibly the hardest step but we must in order to calm the toxicity in our community.
Thank you, for allowing me to express myself in the most genuine way I know how.
We all know that life comes with struggles. There will be times when we are sad, lonely, afraid, and lost. Times when nothing makes it better and no matter what we do or see, the weight never seems to go away. It's like something just grabs you and chains you to the floor, no matter how much you struggle, it's hopeless, and you can't break free. The struggle, whatever it is, has you. You can't run, you can't hide, it's inside you, it is you; the darkness sets in, and then comes the rain.
Sadly, we will all go through this many, many times in our lives. It will come and go just like the storms outside our windows. No one can be happy all the time and not a single person alive knows the feeling of constant, never-ending success. We are, as a collective, prone to periods of highs, middles, lows, and all of the emotions that come with. It's what makes us alive. These different phases, and how they change and shift, make us who we are and shape our perception of the world around us. But, these times of high and low, light and dark, positive and negative, however you want to put it, are actually two sides of the same coin.
It's likely apparent that I have been struggling lately and I, just like many others, fall into that darkness easily. It grabs me and doesn't let go. I have been sad, unmotivated, and felt like I am not good enough ever since I was laid off. It has been a bad time, but I know myself and I have dealt with this enough times to know exactly what's going to happen. Luckily for me, today was a transition and I began to climb out of the darkness. Thanks to the help of friends, some new, and some old, I was able to finally push my head above the water again. I want to share this process and how I cope. Maybe, just maybe, someone will read this and find an answer for themselves.
Today, I was standing in my front yard after just coming back from getting a few groceries and I had a moment of clarity. Every now and again this happens and it's like I've had an out of body experience; and I suddenly return to where I am. Suddenly, and without explanation, I exist differently. I can't explain this, but this is always how it starts for me. The struggle suddenly turns into a climb and the first thing I do is look down at my hands. No exaggeration. For me, that's where the answer always is. I just tend to forget.
I once heard a lecture by Alan Watts, a philosopher who passed away in the 1970s, and even now I can hear his words. This is not an exact transcription, just what I remember:
"I want you to think of the biggest problem in your life and just hold it in your mind. Let it stew for just a moment. Feel the weight of it? How it presses down on you? Now, I want you to reach out, grab it, and show it to me. Go on, put it in my hand, show me your big problem. You can't, can you? So tell me, how real is it? If you can't hold it in your hand, does it have any weight at all?"-Alan Watts, as remembered by me.
These words suddenly echo in my mind along with the realization that struggle and success, darkness and light, happiness and despair, they cannot exist without each other. If you only knew happiness, then you would have no way to define it. If you only knew success, then you wouldn't understand it. The concept itself wouldn't exist to you, it would just, be. Without contrast, without change, life would be very, very bland. This cycle of struggle and success is, strangely, necessary for all of us.
Though the periods of struggle may vary in length, there will always be a crest, always a contrasting moment to give definition. One cannot exist without the other and this is my guiding light through the darkest of times. You may be sad now, you may be struggling at this moment like I am, but it will change. Life always does, most often when you least expect it. It's not about Karma, or Zen, or any other philosophy; it just is. We will smile again. It will come. The climb out from the darkness is only the beginning, but we will make it.
The struggle is only temporary, just like the climb, and we will find the top. Together, we will make our own way out. One day, one picture, one article at a time. That is what makes this community amazing. Look around, there are so many just like you, like me, like us. We are all different and, somehow, all connected.
Grab someone's hand. Don't give up. We are going to make it.
All of us.