A Few Thoughts
I have suffered loss and learned how to grieve. I have fought the darkness of depression and terror of anxiety. I have survived abuse. I’m not a man without scars, some you can see but most you cannot. However, I am a man that loves life. I smile at sunsets and get lost in thought as the sunrises, usually my fingers playing with the keyboard. I embrace life because I don’t believe in wasting time, knowing one day my last breaths will come.
When the darkness does come to play, I find everything I can to set me free, but often the chains play tricks on me. They try to hold me down, confine me, but I know I’ll eventually find the key and the light will return again. I am a man that has found hope, and hope can carry you for ten thousand miles, a hundred years, and much more.
Hope is something that we all need to grasp, hold onto tight and never let go. Hope can keep you sane, strong, and let you find your smile. Hope can defeat the darkness, no matter what it is: depression, anxiety, death, loss, illness, a fucking pandemic, and anything else that is dragging you down. Take hold of hope, and keep it in your forward vision, and leave all the other shit in your rearview. Reflect on those past pains and circumstances, but you have a life to live, so put it behind you and go down life’s highway a hundred miles per hour as if your existence depends on it, because it does. It’s your life to live after all, so go and do so the best you can, with the least regrets possible. Often, I think that is what life comes down to, living it with the least amount of regret, because then you can say your life was fulfilling and one you truly wanted on your own terms.
When I wake up at 2am and my brain is all muddy, filled with past bullshit. I may drag myself into the bathroom, place a warm cloth on my face and try to wipe the pain from my eyes. 2am is a lonely time. It’s when my little friends like to come and visit, whispering in my ear, “You are worthless and everyone hates you, go now and die.” Yes, that’s depression folks. It attempts to steal your smile and everything that’s good in your world. Mostly, it will try to take away your belief in yourself, and when it accomplishes that, you have to tighten your grip on everything that is good in your life. Those weary hours are when you need to know who you truly are and what you have that’s important in your life. It’s when hope will save you. It’s when I try to hear my wife’s voice through the dirty muck, with her telling me, “I love you!” After all, what is more important in life than being loved and loving another? Love is hope and vice versa.
Remember that you do have people that love you, and if you can’t remember, I love you. It’s true, I love all of you and even if we haven’t met, I give you my words because I love you and want you to hang on. I open up my world and be vulnerable for you, so maybe you will not feel alone. If you think that is too Kumbaya, then I envy you because you must have the love you need, and maybe you don’t see the darkness or experience the disease of depression and anxiety. Perhaps, the thought of loving one another and showing kindness to those that you do not know scares you. Open your heart and help limit someone else’s suffering. We need it now more than ever.
Hope can often be a wish, but to me, hope is strength. It is a force that keeps us going. It’s a belief in something greater than ourselves. I have hope for our world. We are living in a bleak time, where we are seeing a great deal of selfishness and ignorance. People are acting in a way that does not benefit their fellow man and woman. Instead, they are looking at their own needs and desires. We are seeing it daily as the pandemic soars, in politics, at work, or in the grocery store checkout. Still, this is our time to rise and be like our ancestors, who overcame adversity. Hope will help us overcome. Those of us that have hope will lead the way and show others the path to follow. Sometimes, people just need someone to show them the way because even though they may try to hide it, they are lost. Take a look at those that make others suffer through their actions and words, through their arrogance, ignorance, and condescending nature, they are hurting from something they do not have in their lives. Show them kindness because they need it more than anyone.
One day, I was climbing a mountain out west. I was on the peak and a whiteout of ice and snow came out of nowhere. The forecast was clear, but one cannot always predict what a mountain top will bring you. That’s between God and the mountain. I couldn’t see more than three feet in front of me. I had limited choices: 1) Wrap myself into a ball and see if the pounding ice would ricochet off of me and keep my core warm, 2) Try to find my way back to the trail and descend the peak, 3) Climb a little further and go into the rock shelter that I knew was at the top of the mountain. I took the latter of the three and kept moving forward. As always, I brought layers in my backpack in case a situation like this came, so I put all of my layers on, more for protection from the ice coming at me like bullets than the cold. I walked with my head down because it was my only choice. The ground had turned white, and I had hope that I would make it to the shelter before falling off a cliff to my demise. As in life, I took one step at a time, one breath at a time. I climbed and then suddenly it was there, the rock shelter. I made it to the large rocks and climbed up and over, landing inside. As I knelt all the way down to avoid the stabbing ice, the whiteout flashing over my head, I heard, “Hello.” It was a man, who did the same thing I had to do, move forward one step at a time in order to find safety from the storm. We shared a Cliff Bar and a few stories and when the storm passed, walked down the mountain together. It was hope that took us to the rock shelter and kept us from panicking. We had hope that we would make it back to the snow covered trailhead, and it was hope that we would see our wives again. Hope gave us the desire to survive.
When times become hard, and they will, it’s just a part of life, don’t lose hope. Take it with you wherever you go. Many of our sufferings in life are impermanent, as life is impermanent. Go live it with grace and empathy, with compassion and love, and with hope.