First published August 13, 2014
Just when you think you have it all figured out, the proverbial ca-ca hits the fan. Everything is going smoothly. Your life is working. You feel safe in the illusion that you are in control. Then suddenly, it all blows up in your face.
The structure crumbles. Nature deals you a serious blow. There is illness, death, tragedy. Inability to control the circumstances. And then panic. Or depression. Or both.
The “luckier” and more privileged we think we are, the further we’re sent reeling by the smack down. We are unprepared. It feels as if we’ve fallen down a flight of stairs and had the wind knocked out of our lungs.
In many ways, life is easier when disappointment starts early. We learn the lesson at a young age that nothing is a given; that we must fight for every drop of happiness we experience. We come to appreciate the times when tragedy does not yank us out of our bed in the middle of the night and toss us out into the cold, dark night. We learn to value the moments when no pain pricks at our body or soul. We know that joy is fleeting, so when it comes, we embrace it and savor every second.
For some — those born into more “fortunate” circumstances — those lessons often don’t get learned until late in life, or perhaps not at all.
When we suffer, we rail against the injustice, failing to recognize that all of life is unjust, even for the so-called lucky ones. Joy is not a permanent condition, but we can achieve a kind of contentment if we can find the lessons and purpose in our journey.
From here, it’s easy to look back and understand all we cannot understand in life. The reasons for each journey are hidden from us behind a veil. Sometimes, we can see vague images, movements, the shadows of actions behind it. We may feel ourselves being pushed or led in a certain direction, but we never really know until we’re back here if we understood correctly, if we were following the right path, if we learned our lessons properly. So many choices and no way to know, until it’s all over.
I was fortunate in that in life I remained strongly tethered to the part of me that remained here. My life was guided by this part of myself. I was able to hear my true soul more clearly than others. I knew enough to listen for that voice, to heed its call, to follow its advice.
This is not to say I never made mistakes or suffered from sadness or pain which (at the time) seemed to have no reason. There were many occasions when I could not hear that guidance. I lost my way, moving blindly and unsteadily through my circumstances, without any faith, hoping I didn’t make any irreparable mistakes. Eventually, however, I’d rise through the pain with a sharper ear, listening more acutely, until finally I was able to distinguish it from all the background chatter, like picking out a familiar voice in the din of a crowd.
It was this voice that got me through.