When All Seems Lost

At some stage in all our lives, things will unravel. The challenges we may face will have the ability to cut to the bone. We will cling onto our resilience like victims of a shipwreck would to a live raft. Losses or circumstances may leave our hearts in shreds.

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During such times it is difficult to imagine that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Nor does is seem possible that we would have the strength or resources to claw our way back to the living. To paraphrase Kafka, sometimes we need to throw our lives away in order to gain it. Calbert reminds us that, “there is no love of life without despair of life”. However, when we are in the midst of the dark night of the soul it is very difficult to take comfort from such pearls of wisdom.

According to Chödrön such moments in life, filled with intense despair, provide us with the opportunity to befriend life by befriending our selves at the deepest level. I introduce Chödrön under the tab, Inspirational Women and I strongly recommend an exploration of her writings and words of wisdom. They are guaranteed to offer comfort and practical steps in finding your way back.

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Each and every one of us will discover through serendipity, I believe, the teachings, tools and people to provide us with the support we need to find our way out of the depths of despair. These are and will be as varied as the stars in the evening sky. All we need is to open our hearts and minds for them to find us when we need them most.

Every living creature from the smallest insect to human beings experience fear at some point. Fear is often the result of facing the unknown or the perceived threat to our survival. We also react with fear to the possibilities of loneliness, illness and ultimately death with no perceived support to cling to. However, Chödrön suggests that fear is a natural reaction to moving closer to the truth. She goes on to say that things become clear when there is nowhere to escape.

Such clarity is seen as the result of becoming intimate with our fear, using it as a tool to dismantle our old ways of being. It is during times such as these that we discover our deepest strength. Often our pain and fear are the result of resisting the inevitable changing nature of life.

We are born, we grow old and we die. Similarly people and experiences come and go in our lives. Everything is always in the process of transition. The counterintuitive approach is to relax into the circumstances and not to resist or panic. It does not mean passivity, but acceptance instead. We can draw comfort from the fact that any experience, no matter how painful or destructive, is also in transition and will eventually pass.

According to one of the greatest philosophers, Friedrich Nietzsche, a fulfilling life requires embracing rather running away from difficulties. In a particularly emblematic selection from his notebook, he wishes on those who are important to him suffering, desolation, sickness, ill-treatment and indignities. He goes on to share his wishes that they do not remain unfamiliar with profound self-contempt and the torture of self-mistrust. With friends like these, who needs enemies! However, what Nietzsche is trying to say is that these experiences demonstrate our worthiness through our ability to endure.

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I will not wish such tortures upon you, but I also know that you will not escape your own trials and tribulations. Hopefully the words in this posting may offer some comfort during such times. I reiterate that through openness and acceptance we will discover the support in whatever shape necessary when it matters the most.

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