Updated: May 30, 2020
So often I have heard people say “Life Sucks” (I’m guilty for sure), and there’s a sense that the whole world is against us and HOPE is an unattainable destination. It’s an authentic and real emotion that perpetuates itself with every slight against us being magnified; adding to the weight on our shoulder’s and the negative gravity is a psychic force metaphorically pulling us to the ground. Being bombarded by negative stimuli every day, nothing but despair coming across the airwaves; I have found it easy to succumb to the dread, and Eeyore takes his place as my Patron Saint. I recall being in a really dark place emotionally one night some years ago. I was standing on the banks of a river in New England, negative wind chill temps threatening frost bite, drinking a beer. I can’t say I was suicidal but I can admit that I looked at the dark waters and thought “How long would it take to succumb to the frigid doom that was only a few feet away? ”
I raised the bottle to my lips and the beer had turned to slush in the cold. It was a distraction at just the right time. As I raised the bottle, smiling at my IPA slushy, my eyes took in the winter scene. City lights in the quaint New England village illuminating the bridge, the lobster boats ‘moored along the banks, bobbing in the dim light. To my left, the silhouette of the historic part of the village, restored to its 1700’s splendor, was faintly visible; the smoke from dozens of wood fires in the town’s old home fireplaces wafting into my senses. I visualized people huddled together, embraced by the glowing heat from the embers. Maybe happy, maybe sad, “who know’s?” I thought.
And in that moment, clarity. I lost it completely, heaving sobs and tears freezing as my mind imploded by the contradictions in my brain. Despondent musings giving way to absolute beauty assaulting my senses.
I realized in that nanosecond that my situation was my situation. Reason surfaced to remind me that some had it much better but also knew that some had it much worse. My self- pity and despair were suddenly buried by the stimuli LIFE was providing me in that moment. Every sense was popping! Taste (Ice cold (literally) beer) ~ Sight (beauty every-where I looked)~ Touch (the snow and cold) ~ Sound (the boats bobbing in the water, music from the distant pubs, sea gulls)~ Smell (salt air, wood fires) .
It was an epiphany, really, that clarified for me that Life, in fact, doesn’t suck. Life is beautiful. Life goes on. Honestly, Life doesn’t care if we are there or not because it flows forward, always. In that moment I realized that for every negative thought or feeling I may have; whatever darkness may be trying to take hold, I can look around me and find any number of things to signify that it’s my situation that may suck, not Life. And moving forward has to be a willful choice at times. It’s not easy. I fail often at it but having done it once, I know it’s there and it motivates me to find it again. In those moments when I can find the beauty in the simple things that surround me, or take action to create a beautiful moment (try holding the door for a random stranger, or make a child smile by being goofy, the response is almost always amazing) then I step away from the despair for an instant and in that instant, a spark of Hope can be ignited, and from that a flame can take hold. It’s terribly difficult these days. Compartmentalizing has become a muscle that needs to be exercised daily. Yet, I have come to realize, that there is always something there that keeps the light shining, if I just take a moment to find it. Grabbing a coffee to go, my eyes peeking over my mask , and on all four walls are paintings from local artists, in every form, covering all aspects of Life, making me wonder what their motivations are; Pain? Escape? Celebration? Joy?
It’s all captured right here, in beautiful, creative reflection. I don’t ignore the horror and the sadness that is relentlessly flowing across the media. I can’t. But neither can I ignore what’s beautiful and important to hold onto, that we can lose sight of, and in this exact moment, the soulful growl of Louis Armstrong makes its way into my psyche, reminding me “…and I think to myself, what a wonderful world”. Peace my friends.