“You may trod me in the very dirt, but still like dust, I'll rise.” -Maya Angelou
To appreciate the following piece, I have to put it into context. I have fallen, friends, hard.
Since February and only until quite recently, I had been living in my car, broke and with no hope. I am not a criminal or addict, but rather, slipped through a loophole that allowed the contention of others to sweep my legs out from underneath me. Maybe more dramatically than even they had intended. I cleaned myself in a city library in the morning and faced the maddening task of hiding from police and other passersby who might see me huddled over in the backseat of my SUV at night.
My children and home were taken from me and I couldn't afford the legal help needed to fight the accusations levied against me. I was in a free fall.
In the chaos, I fell away from my beliefs and thoughts of tending to my mental health were replaced with ones manufactured to help me escape. I tried to keep up a life with superficial friends, but after months of slipping further down into the dark, my mind seemed to gravitate towards hopelessness. I lost everything at once and after six months, pondered how long it would take for someone to identify a body in the back of a vehicle, slumped over and still.
It's fair to say that in order to reach the stars, one must smash against the ocean floor, or maybe it's vice versa. I'm not sure. Taoism would allude to the repeated oscillation of a being between the two as the process that gives life its flavor. I like to think that each extreme is still independent of one another. A deeper appreciation for one extreme can be found in the other, but I don't subscribe to their interdependence. Either way, the ability to climb back up seems to be the point I'm trying to make here.
A sharp descent was a requirement that I hadn't understood at the time, but see now for the opportunity it provided. I needed to reset some old bones that hadn't healed properly and within my catastrophe, after the dust settled, I found a reason to hope. The darkness is being washed away and emerging from the muck are the people I love and the little things I look forward to doing again. I'm still homeless and without income, but I am navigating like I used to and I know my return is only a matter of time.
The world can grind against you, mercilessly. Day after day. Night after night. No open doors. No outstretched hand. No consoling words. Only a long, lonely, heartbroken silence. This can continue for months, or years. Nothing is certain but change. In my experience, a gradual emaciation of the mind occurred. Thoughts not my own. Like an eclipse that begins to cover a brightly lit sky in a great shadow, so does stress interrupt the mind's ability to maintain order. More than a few have lost their way in this murky fog.
That, dear friends, is inexcusable. Nothing in this world should be given the right to hinder one's will to live. Only, it is our responsibility to draw the line. To acknowledge what is affecting us and mold it like clay into a form that we can manage is real power. Dragons, to some, are nothing more than lizards. Unfortunately for others, the opposite is true. How we choose to react and what principalities we decide to follow can make all the difference in the world.
What will come of you and I, or anyone for that matter, is not known, but you are a human invaluable nonetheless. The very effect your existence has is immeasurable and if given enough time a little outside perspective, we might recognize as much. Whether that existence is positive or negative is up to you. As a human, you are in total control of everything around you, whether you want to admit it or not. Most of us are stuck in a psycho-social game of sorts, but lacking the ability to recognize how fortuitous we are to be able demonstrate kindness where we were shown none. You've heard it before, but being the change you want to see is vital.
Embody receptivity and adaptation and you will thrive where others cannot. Thrive where others cannot and you will provide structure and generate trust and admiration. Generate trust and respond to admiration humbly and you will create an identity that evolves with your surroundings. Create a benign identity of your own to be seen by others and you will attain a genuine, deep and lasting sense of self-worth most never discover. It's not hard, start small. Be appreciative of what you do have. Tend to your mind when the darkness intrudes. Be light in heart and mind and look for the same light in others. Anything else is false bravado.
Dark thoughts should be ripped from their perch, even when we have nothing to replace them with. If you do have those things that give you hope, then by all means necessary, plant those seeds. Bare earth is better than blight and even in chaos, it is each of our responsibility to remove what affects our emotions and distracts us from finding our way. Practice this and negativity will struggle just to take root. Master your domain, however small you think it is and you will never fail to rise.