“…the courage with which we bear our darkness frees others from having to carry it for us…”
John Tarrant, The Light Inside the Dark
That’s a quote from one of my all-time favorite books. The title is fairly self-explanatory and jives well with my basic life philosophy that from all things, most especially the dark or challenging experiences we encounter in life, there is great potential for inner growth. And inner growth, when used to its fullest promise, impacts not only the way we live our lives but the way we view and interact with others. This, of course, opens us, prepares us to achieve the highest levels of empathy and kindness which, in turn, benefits the entirety of planet earth as the love rolls outward, playing it forward.
Sometimes I watch the athletically gifted, or merely inclined, with near envy. I was never much at outdoor activities unless it involved walking on the beach collecting shells, or sitting under a tree studying insect activities in mossy/dirt-laden carpets beneath the trees. Usually there was a pen and tablet close by where I recorded my most profound and dramatic perspectives concerning the universe. I wanted to be athletic, but a slight heart defect kept me from participating in strenuous activities so it worked out well that I enjoyed being a word-nerd.
Had life been different I doubt that I’d be running marathons or taking dance lessons at my age; I’m too reserved to be comfortable being Outstanding at anything these days. Whenever there’s one handy, I still love walking on the beach, although I admit I sit gazing at the horizon more often, pen and tablet still in hand. I love the woods more than it loves me, (I’m a flea, tick, and chigger magnet), but I still venture in to study the miracles and viciousness of nature. And take notes.
The world is full of darkness and grief; every day we see, experience or read about one extreme tragedy or another, and it’s hard to imagine when faced with horror there might be light at the end of the tunnel, let alone a potential for inner growth. But there is.
I’m not as optimistic as I used to be but I still expect good things to happen. I’m realistic about it though. So if ten bad things happen I can usually find hope in at least six or seven of them.
The most important thing to me is maintaining absolute honesty with myself. I own up to my stuff, positive or negative. If I feel I’ve let someone down, for example, I say it out loud. I let myself sit with the weight of that statement for a while, then forgive myself and move on. I don’t brood anymore, and I try very hard not to dump my pain on others, although I struggle with the fine line between sharing and dumping at times.
If it’s really ugly, you can bet I’m going to keep it to myself. Well, except for my poetry; that’s almost always tragic.
Still, I’m going to keep striving to be as stoic and respectful of others as Mr. Tarrant is. I really don’t want anyone else to have to carry my load. You can walk beside me, come along for the trip, but that’s all I’m really be comfortable with. I love having goals and my heart is still good enough that I can stretch to reach them without injuring anything.