“I’m going through a really sucky time.” Davida
My friend was struggling through a number of very challenging changes in her life. Davida has quite a bit of depth and substance to her, so I knew that shallowness or platitudes would not be useful.
I shared with her a not-too-distant experience with a client group where a pattern of significant misconduct had been uncovered. It was the kind of ugliness that is really breathtaking, and produced some moments where I found it quite hard to maintain my normal state of optimism. I was very deeply affected.
I told Davida as much as I could about the scenario, which remained necessarily anonymous and confidential.
She cried. At first, she was sure it was sorrow for those affected. Then came the tears that told her it was her own injury that was reflected in theirs.
“How can we ever handle so much bullshit?” Davida asked.
Isn’t that the question with which many of us must grapple?
I can only speak from personal experience. No honest answer can come from some safe psychological distance.
Deep within those times that have presented the greatest threat, including being very near suicide on a couple of occasions because of dark despair, have come personal inner transformations that have remade me. The result is that they have become precious experiences.
While going through them, there were a few who joined me in my darkest places, not with words or prayers or remedies, but with their unconditional presence. In some cases, they held my hand to help me find my way through. In others, they simply stayed present. And somehow through necessary spiritual efforts, remarkable meaning emerged from what were certainly ugly realities.
I don't think there are simple answers, nor do I think it is for us to merely whitewash troubling realities. Yet, my experience shows me that the things I most fear will break me prove to be moments that change me forever.
Said an old friend now gone from the earth, "Cuddle up to your fears and your sorrows. Make friends with them. See what they can teach you."
I looked Davida in the eyes after the conversation, and told her, “I love you.” We held each other in presence for a while.
Later, I contemplated our conversation. I realized that there are powerful conclusions from such difficulties in my life and in the lives of others.
First and always, it is useful to remember that amid all the things that would drag us down, there is beauty and wonder to be found. There are always moments for awe.
Somehow, we need to hold true to continuing to grow with and through difficulties. To deepen ourselves in the presence of what forces we must face. To fully engage ourselves and our lives in order to be reconciled.
Perhaps most importantly, we benefit most when we can find ways to enjoy ourselves and our paths no matter what fate or destiny may bring. That is as much an inner realignment as it is anything. We have to somehow find a way to a new attitude.
Some would add service to others as a necessary outcome, which I can easily understand since otherwise these matters seem merely self-indulgent. Yet my experience is that when we take care of these three that I’ve named, service beyond ourselves is inevitable.
The way we impact the world is by doing such things that are in the realms of our lives where we have influence or access or opportunities. To act from where we are. Humbly and thankfully.
Gratitude is not a feeling. It is action. Inward and outward.