The alarm rings again. Breathing deeply through the fog of early morning I stumble across the room to find the phone and hit snooze. Just a little more sleep before I have to face another day. Just to close my eyes one more time before I have to face the ghosts of days gone past and the bleak desolated wasteland of a future unknown. As I lay back down, not really sleeping but not quite awake I continue to breathe. Deeper and deeper, slowly. Feeling the cold rush of air against the back of my throat. For a moment I stop and just hold. The sound of the fan blowing somewhere in the distance, hell even the birds are still sleeping. I imagine myself rising above my body. Floating in a weightless mass of soul and spirit, off into the ether. And then the alarm comes ringing again and pulls me back into my body to face yet another day. Wash, rinse, repeat.
I've had more days like this than I can count. Days when it feels like life is wasted on me. Days when “Human life is the source of deep suffering” resounds in my ears over and over again. Perhaps it is more rare when I recall Henry James Slacks closing of that verse, “and gorgeous hope.”
I say this not to complain, rather to say that it is my personal belief that falling to the dregs is a normal part of the human condition. We have all, at one time or another, been in that place. That place where each minute feels like a thousand little knives stabbing at us with every click of the clock.
"The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. What is called resignation is confirmed desperation. From the desperate city you go into the desperate country, and have to console yourself with the bravery of minks and muskrats. A stereotyped but unconscious despair is concealed even under what are called the games and amusements of mankind. There is no play in them, for this comes after work. But it is a characteristic of wisdom not to do desperate things." ~Henry David Thoreau
I'll say that again in a different way, we all face the struggle. We're all in this together. This thing called life. Better yet, those dark times don't last forever. The night will wane and give way to dawn. Not just any dawn, your own personal dawn. And this new rising of the sun will be all the more beautifully painted by the haze of the previous darkness.
Taking time to consider the ebb and flow will also show that there are three stages you might find yourself in; the depth of the night, the haze of the rising dawn or the full bright of day. Each stage is a teacher of truth and brings a unique wisdom and perspective all it's own. And each phase is temporal. Part of grasping this wisdom and working through the dark is realizing the following:
We are called to be present
Life is a lot about embracing and living each moment rather than looking to some future that doesn't exist yet. You have no guarantees, not even another breath. Accept that as fact. This moment now, good or bad as you choose to call it, is all you are promised. This leaves us with the most grand of choices possible to all existence. The choice to choose freedom. As Viktor Frankl said,
“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing; the last of human freedoms, to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way.”
So let us strive to be present in the moment, whatever phase that moment may be. Not necessarily to change the situation, but to change ourselves. When we are present in that moment we may find ourselves more easily ready to grasp the second truth;
We are a part of beauty
There is a beauty to and in all circumstances. No matter where we find ourselves there is magic and beauty to be found. While it is easier to see in the grandiose light of day, it is nonetheless present with us in the depths of night as well. If we never stepped foot into twilight, into the crisp night air, we should never see the stars moving slowly overhead. It is in these hours, while the mass of the world falls fast asleep that a wondrous new world awakens.
Night is harsh in it's starkness. It is dangerous. Look closer and you will see the graceful flight of the owl, silently soaring through the sky. Quiet yourself and you will hear the wind gently caressing the leaves. Allow yourself to feel and you will find your skin cooled by the breeze untainted by the heat of the sun. It is for the very challenge of the night itself that morning has such a high place in our lives.
Take time to find the beauty of the situation. Take time to learn what lessons are opportune at the moment. When you find that place you will reach one more realization;
You do not need to be saved from the moment.
There is no goal, no purchase, no one person that will make everything okay and bring a close to the darkness. It is only unity in all things that brings clarity and moves the phases from one to the next. This lesson shows us that, regardless of what we may think or what others may tell us, we are already complete.
We are a part of this thing we call humanity. We all struggle, we all strive. All of us face the night. The worst that could happen to you is not your physical death. Rather it is the death of your passion. The loss of lesson you, and only you, have been born to teach. Take time to recognize the wisdom of all phases of life. As you do, as you listen, as you walk, you will have an opportunity to fight against the one thing that really will destroy any of us; indifference to it all.
“The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference. The opposite of beauty is not ugliness, it’s indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it’s indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, but indifference between life and death.” Elie Wiesel