A conversation with a dear friend today wound up at a place which rather swept me off my feet and plonked me right into the middle of a rather think-y kind of mood. It happened right around the time I was trying to justify the point to her that somehow we just have to live, and keep living, right amidst the shambles that life sees fit to thrust upon us.
Because it does. It really, seriously does.
It takes hopes and dreams and plans and expectations and desires and blows them all into smithereens, whilst almost laughing in your face at having been so stupid to even think that those things might have been meant for you, or part of your future. It sucks.
And if I think veryveryquickly, without even stopping to put effort into it, I can call to mind people in my ken who are dealing with such diverse things as chronic illness, death of a loved one, depression, family breakdown, complicated children, unemployment, mental health issues, financial difficulties, eating disorders, child loss…ohmigosh I could go on, and the list just gets bigger and more heartbreaking the more time which is spent on it.
These aren’t even the ‘middle’ things, like injuries, ongoing medical conditions, complicated families, or lack of job security. And really the small things fade into the background to the point where they almost become decorative pieces of tinycrap amongst the shit-storm which is being dealt with on a daily basis.
Each time I feel as though my own life has barrelled straight from one catastrophe into the next – with no time to stop and breathe in between – if I’m not careful and I say it out loud, I soon discover an echo in the voices of so many of the people I hold dear, all raising their hands and voices in one plaintive cry of “me too!”
Sometimes it feels as though a large number of the people I know are hanging on by a thread. I know it’s not the case for all of them, but for many, there is genuine anguish in the soul or the circumstances, and they’re struggling to stay afloat. If I look with my mind’s eye for too long, it becomes misted with tears and the disheartening fear that this is just how life is – there is no let-up, no win, no pinnacle or plateau which, once achieved, ensures ongoing security and success: it’s just all a big ol’ mess.
The thing which struck me between the eyes was my friend’s concern that her life had lost meaning, and that she was stuck in that shambles with no way out. I didn’t have anything comforting to say because I’m not sure that, for everyone, there is.
Whatever way they arrive at them, most people (I think) end up with a set of expectations for life, and things they feel *should* happen. I know I did. And I know that each time I crash into another wall of reality and watch one of those expectations go up in flames, it hurts. It really, really hurts, and though I don’t think that the BadStuff happens on purpose, there is beauty in the brokenness, which I don’t think could be found any other way.
And mostly that comes through the people I have around me.
There are instances, of course, when a moment in time just transcends the day and becomes delightful. There are small successes and achievements, which make life seem *twinklysparklygood* for a while. There are periods of time where I feel like the right person, in the right place, and everything is as it should be. There is *always* nature (and failing that, Pintrest), which often provides moments of wonder and awe, and it feels sometimes as though those things are like specks of light in the darkness, making it seem almost pretty as it rolls on in its grumbling, destructive way.
But the clouds gather again, and threaten to overwhelm, and in those moments, time and time again, it’s the people I know who provide the silver linings, and let me tell you – they. are. breathtaking.
The capacity of the human heart to love – to take into its consideration another person (and another, and another), and to care, is mindblowing – and in the end, I think that’s part of the point: we all belong to each other, and gradually we need to learn to live like it.
If everyone lived with each other’s best interests as their driving force, what a different world this would be. Yes – it’s a completely unachievable ideal, but just stop and think about it for a moment – how beautiful it could be…
Each time I get knocked down by the next catastrophic sneaker-wave, become overwhelmed and start drowning, people are there for me – not because they are forced to, or because there’s something in it for them, or because I deserve it, but because they have chosen to take me into their hearts and allowed me matter to them.
It’s what friendship (perhaps the pinnacle of human relationship?) is about.
The strength of their love and care is so great that it reaches beyond TimeZones and Geography. There are people who can hug me, or hold me when I cry, and there are people who send emails or voice-messages to express support. Collectively, the light which shines into my various darknesses has thus far proven more than up to the challenge – I am still here. The darkness has not overcome me and in counting my blessings, I know that they all have names and faces and lives and families and challenges of their own.
I only hope that I can be as much of a silver lining to them in my turn.
And THAT (I think) is what it’s all about – life is messy and broken and brutal and often seems intent to destroy us, but if we can find people to whom we can turn; to whom we can reach out our hands from the depths of our darknesses, and know that they will grab hold and hang on tight whilst trouble rages around us, then there is beauty and light in our lives which, without the challenges, would never have been discovered, and without testing, would never have shown its true strength.
We are each others’ silver linings, and times of darkness only serve to make us shine brighter.
Together we are stronger.