Life is like a line; with a beginning and an end.
Life is like the mist; appears for a little while then vanishes.
Life is like the tide; with its highs and lows.
Life is like a flower; blooms in the day and withers at night.
Life is like the seasons; with every that comes another goes by.
Unless you have had the privilege of living abroad, most of us would have never experienced the changing tide of seasons passed. But the changing seasons have a great lesson to teach us; a lesson that cannot be taught in schools. And of all the four seasons, Winter is the most dreadful of them all. The cold winds, the gloomy skies, the endless hours of night, and the fleeting daylight all scream straight to our bones a melancholy beyond words. The night is often cruel, the rain unrelenting once it starts to pour. It makes one sad, and fears of distant past suddenly come crashing in. Worries and regrets assault our troubled minds, and we are simply left reeling.
But those dark clouds hanging over the black cold sky; in time they too will be peeled back. They will not last forever, indeed they cannot. Doubtless, the sun will rise again and break through the horizon once more to cover the earth with its warmth. Winter will give way to Spring, and the dreary season will change; not if, but when. So where does that leave us? In the interim between what is and what will be, we discover that sometimes we need to hold onto ourselves in the Wintertime, when we are feeling stuck and lonely and cold. The freezing winds need to blow, sometimes really hard, to blow out the dead autumn leaves that remain stuck on our trees.
We will only know how much we can bend, without breaking, if we have weathered a winter’s storm. In other words, like a tree that is strengthened by exposure to winds strong enough to bend but not break its limbs, resilience cannot be taught; it must be learned. It must be grasped through the insights and perspectives we gain from our (often) painful experiences. Growth is always connected with pain; learning with unlearning. Just like a seed fighting to give birth to life, first, it must die. Tragedy can be a springboard to maturity, and even the saddest circumstance can become, once we have made peace with them, a source of wisdom and strength for the journey that still lies ahead. Will you, therefore, dedicate your life to avoiding pain and suffering at all costs, or will you embrace it when the time comes, knowing that the important thing in life is not the absence of sorrow, but the triumph that comes after the struggle with sorrow. And even then, this too shall pass.
One of the positive yields that I have observed in many of my counselling clients who have carried brokenness in their hearts is the stripping away of life’s false illusions. The tears that frequently accompany pain and depression often have this unintended miracle of washing one’s eyes, metaphorically speaking. As the tears flow, so too are the eyes clean. In time, the suffering client is able to really see; to perceive what is truly important and meaningful to his or her life. They have more disregard to trade away unfulfilling life goals and ambitions for the contentment of the simple yet profound pursuits of things like relationships, people, and the present hour. In a way, suffering shatters all fantasies of an ideal world and forces them to confront the ugly doctrine that comforts- those who try to hold on to an optimistic view of this world eventually become pessimists, but the people who hold onto a sombre view of it ultimately become hopeful.
Perhaps we still ache under the dim memory of an easier past. A time when things felt clearer, simpler, and lighter. We look this way and that, hoping in vain to return. The lost stare out the window will not subside on their own, and yet when we want to give up and cave in, remember, there is an end to darkened roads.