Crazy fragile, crazy resilient

I had a conversation recently that reminded me of how amazing we are as human beings.

As I’ve documented in previous posts, I’ve experienced a fair share of speed bumps on the road of life.  I lost my dad and my brother in the same summer, I was diagnosed and treated with cancer, and a few other things have come up.

What I’ve tried to do in life is to remain objective, and open to seeing what others are going through.  First of all, I’d be an idiot to think I have it bad – there are plenty of people who have experienced infinitely more painful and impossible circumstances.  Secondly, I’ve met too many people along the way who will dwell solely on their own experiences, and get truly mired down in the pain, the suffering, the guilt and any other emotions that they are letting take control of their minds and bodies.  I didn’t want to be like that.

That’s easier to say than to do – the easy path is to just let go of your life, and let your ship head where it wants, being steered solely by those negative emotions and the few external factors you can’t control.  You become a wreck, feeling sorry for yourself, and shortly thereafter you find yourself in a tar pit of despair – completely unable to move forward and stuck.  After a while, that feeling of helplessness, inexplicable anger and sadness, the Eeyore dark cloud just over your head and nobody else’s…. that all becomes comfortable.  No, it’s not what you wanted out of life, but you have slowly become one with it, and soon, my friends, it starts to define who you are.  Now, it doesn’t really define who you are, make no mistake – I firmly believe who we really are stays the same throughout our lives.  But the facade we present, the mask we wear and the face we put forth to the world starts getting defined by the dark things in our past and people start seeing us as this new person.  Feel free to put a label on it – you can be seen as depressed, angry, whatever.  The world will forever continue to label these things, whether they’re truly diagnosed illnesses or just simply a reflection of what they see in you – even if it’s just a snapshot in time.  And even those labels do damage – they eventually enable us to become disabled by them.

Let me get back to this conversation I had.  I saw a person who has gone through deep and dark valleys.  Certainly this person’s life has had its share of peaks and joyous occasions, but I don’t want to ignore the incredible amount of pain and suffering this person has gone through.  What I saw is a person saddled with sadness, anger and guilt – and in my opinion, every one of these emotions was valid and appropriate.

But herein lies my story.  It’s not those things that this person is focused on.  It’s coming out of those things that has now consumed this human being and it is remarkable to see that happen.  This is not like a light switch, my friends.  You can’t go through the depths of despair and expect to come out of it cold turkey.  You can’t expect to put in the effort and wake up one morning to find yourself refreshed and made anew.  It’s more like a dimmer switch that has two “on” settings, in my opinion.  ON to ON.  You need to work your way from the deepest, darkest valleys and the full depth of those controlling emotions.  You need to  slowly slide the switch to make your way into neutral ground where the bad starts fading from your life as you overcome it, and the light starts to shine as you move toward it.  Although you might not see it yet, as you’re doing that, you’re also moving that switch toward the other end of the spectrum, which is where you want it to be.  Where you want YOU to be.  Where you need you to be.

The incredible fragility of our human spirit that can often be broken so quickly and fractured to a state that seems beyond repair isn’t the amazing thing here.  It is the ability of that spirit to repair itself.  It is the ability to spot, atop a faraway mountain, the remote possibility of change.  A simple beacon of hope, a simple yearning faith placed in something or someone that means something to you and nobody else.  It is that strength that is given to all of us that never ceases to shock me and amaze me.

As human beings, we are typically raised on foundation blocks of values, beliefs, systems and structures.  Those structures aren’t always the most solid ones for us, yet we have no way of turning back time to change that.  It is because of this (that many of us are brought up in a long-standing system that seems like the norm to us) that it is difficult to break from these structures and systems.

I have often told people to look at their situation as though they’re playing 5 card stud.  Yes, you’ve been dealt a hand.  Yes, it’s easy to see your cards and yes, there is a possibility of making a great hand out of those cards.  But try to remember that if the cards you were dealt aren’t the cards you can make the best play with, you CAN get new cards.  It doesn’t change the fact that you were dealt those cards originally, and they will always be part of your game (and therefore your life) and perhaps put you behind a turn or two, but YOU remain in control of big parts of this game of life and you can put those bad cards down, and get new ones.  It’s hard to do as a person, but you can take control of things, and you can get dealt new cards and make the best play possible.

I’ve seen it happen many times over.  I’ve seen incredibly strong spirits broken.  Honestly, you could say they were shattered.  And I’ve seen those spirits, those amazing human beings, come out of the dark and be the best people they have ever been.  And most importantly, these human beings themselves realized they were finally the people they were meant to be.  I love meeting people who are comfortable with who they are, but even more so, I love meeting those that have become, evolved and metamorphosed over time, to be in a skin they are finally comfortable in.

If you’re going through something that has made you realize you are not, or haven’t been, yourself, don’t let the bad things keep you in that space.  See yourself for what you have to give to the world and take the steps you need to, so you can offer all of us all the amazing gifts you’ve been given.  You’ll experience love, freedom and peace to degrees you never thought possible.

To my recent conversation partner – thank you for taking the time to talk to me and let me into your life and remind me of how amazing you, and we all, are.  You’ll get through this.  You may think you’re crazy fragile, but as it turns out, you’re crazy resilient and that’s what matters, my friend.

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