Posts tagged ‘depression’

January 13, 2015

Adversity is an ally that helps you grow

I just finished reading Robyn Davidson’s excellent book Tracks, a bitingly candid account of Davidson’s mostly solo camel trek across 1,700 miles of Australian desert.

Davidson’s inner landscape understandably shifts considerably during her arduous journey. At one point, she falls into a deep depression and arrives at an observation that I think holds value for how we handle moments of despondency in our own lives:

In the past, my bouts of gloom and despair had led, like widdershins [water-worn gulleys] to the same place. And it seemed that at that place was a signpost saying, “Here it is,” here is the thing you must push through, leap free of, before you can learn any more. It was as if the self brought me constantly to this place — took every opportunity to show it to me. It was as if there was a button there which I could push if I only had the courage. If I could only just remember. Ah, but we always forget. Or are too lazy. Or too frightened. Or too certain we have all the time in the world. And so back up the ravines to the comfortable places . . . where we don’t have to think too much. Where life is, after all, just “getting by” and where we survive, half asleep.

What I take from Davidson’s words is this: life’s low moments often point us directly to the issues, challenges or shifts that really matter — the ones that we must, at some point, overcome or address in order to grow as people. To ignore these “signposts” and hightail it back behind the safety barriers does us no good in the long run. We grow through discomfort, not ease, and we must tackle discomfort head on in order to realize our full potential as human beings.

In this way, adversity becomes our ally — a partner and collaborator in the exercise of stretching our lives and our selves to new heights. We’d never get to the point of having to choose “leap or retreat” (“grow or stagnate”) if not for adversity constantly forcing us down the road upon which that choice lies.

The next time you are confronted with a “signpost” in your life, what will you do? Will you muster the courage to stride past it into the unknown, knowing that the true value of your life ultimately lies in this direction? Or will you quail, turn tail and scramble back to safety, mumbling excuses all the way? The direction is clear, but the choice is yours to make.

August 5, 2014

Live the whole glorious hazard

I like this passage from the memoir Traveling with Pomegranates: A Mother-Daughter Story by Sue Monk Kidd and Ann Kidd Taylor:

There is no immunity from life — that’s what I’ve learned. I will never be the kind of person to volunteer from the audience at Cirque du Soleil, but I won’t be satisfied with being draperies either. I don’t want to miss out on what the Greeks call zoe. Life. I want to live all of it, the whole glorious hazard.

What a great way to describe life: “the whole glorious hazard.”

I want to live the whole glorious hazard, too. I want to greet each day excited about what it might bring, not worried about what may come to pass. I want to focus on what I have in life, rather than what I don’t have. I want to reach old age and still have a sparkle in my eye and a desire to try new things. I want to always have a true understanding of what zoe is because of all the zoe flowing through my body and my mind and my heart every single day.

Let’s get out there and live the hazard.

October 1, 2013

October challenge: Reach out (In memory of a lost friend)

This month’s challenge is in memory of my friend Anita, who took her own life at the end of August.

This October, I challenge you to reach out to someone you know who may be going though a difficult time. Even if that person seems fine on the outside, reach out anyway; they may be hurting more than you know inside. Even if that person doesn’t ask for help, reach out anyway; they may not know how to ask for support, or they may not think themselves worthy of it. Reach out even if they don’t want you to do so. Reach out even if you think it silly or unnecessary or far too intrusive. Make that phone call, make that visit, give that hug, speak that kind word of support or encouragement. Share your own dark moments, if you are comfortable doing so, to help that person see that they are not alone in what they are experiencing, and that there is hope for the future. Reach out in any way you can, however small. In the end, your single act of caring may be the one thing that pulls that person back from the brink of despair, back onto the road of life.

Peace be with you, Anita. The world is less bright without you in it.