There are going to be times in life when nothing is working; difficult times, impossible times. There will be countless setbacks, frustrating disappointments, heartbreak, tragedy, loss and grief. There are going to be times when nothing makes sense anymore, when we feel totally lost in the wilderness without a compass.
At some point, we’re going to wonder why it’s even worth continuing. It will reach a point where it can all seem utterly hopeless, dark and desolate. There will be times when you feel so irretrievably lost and confused. You’re not going to know what to do.
Usually our first reaction is that our life is completely falling apart. It seems like the only justifiable and reasonable conclusion.
But the hard truth is that often times, life gives us seemingly insurmountable challenges because it wants to evoke something deeper from us.
Everyone’s challenge is different, and the degree of severity varies immensely, but there are really only two options: we let it define us and control us, or we make a conscious choice to grow from the experience.
That’s what many of the greatest souls to ever walk this Earth did. Their greatness and character were born out of the crucible of adversity.
These great souls may not be famous. You may never hear their names echoed across the centuries. Maybe they’re just like you. Endured impossible challenges just like you.
Adversity alone has bred incredible beings because they allowed it to fortify them, to shape them, to mold them. And adversity affords every human being the same opportunity.
As Helen Keller once wrote, “Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired, and success achieved.”
This is alchemy, that suffering has the ability – for those who allow it – to be transformed into gold, into wisdom, into meaning. If necessity is the mother of invention, then adversity is the mother of growth.
Sometimes your life needs to totally breakdown before something new can emerge. Sometimes the worst thing that has ever happened to us can turn out to be the best thing. And often times so much of the pain we feel is the old breaking down to make way for the new.
How can we know we’ll be alright? We can’t. How do we make sure we don’t mess it up? We don’t. How will we make sure it goes the way we planned? We won’t.
We can look everywhere for the answers. But with all of the self-help books, and all of the teachers and their wisdom, there is still only one qualified being in this entire cosmos that has the capacity to have your answer, and that’s you.
And if this transformation is going to take place, then you can’t stop. You have to find a way to keep going. Despite how impossible it seems, despite how painful it is, you have to keep going.
You have to keep going because you’re a miracle. Because it’s truly miraculous that, despite your adversities, your scars, your setbacks, your disappointments, you’re still here.
You have to keep going because someone, somewhere is counting on you. And as strange as it sounds, in a way, we’re all counting on you. We’re counting on you to persevere, to reinvent, to find a way through.
People that don’t even know you, people who will never know you, they’re counting on you. They are counting on the light you are going to bring forth into the darkness.
You have to keep going, because in the end, it’s not about you, it was never was about you. It’s about the generations that will come after you – your victory, your triumph – it’s a gift for them.
You have to keep going because we all have to fall sometimes. And during the fall you’re going to wish you could turn back and pretend it wasn’t happening. And you would, were it not for the pin prick of light that whispers, ‘Keep going, just keep going.’ And by some chance act of grace you have to manage to find the one ounce of ‘yes’ hidden within your frail and trembling being that allows you to follow that light.
You have to keep going into that abyss, into the where the darkness is, into where your demons are. Despite your fears, despite your doubts, despite yourself. Most importantly, you have to let yourself go into the abyss and not get stuck there—to go through hell and out the other side. And when you emerge, you’re not going to be the same person who leapt into that abyss. You’ll be different. Bolder, stronger, wiser.
You have to keep going because it’s the good fight. It’s the fight actually worth fighting, it’s the journey worth making.
Sometimes life only gives us an inch of hope; sometimes, not even an inch – just a millimeter.
And I’m telling you, if the universe has only given you the smallest amount of hope, of course – no matter how infinitesimally small, you have to stand with it. That’s the power of being human.
We have to learn to trust – it’s our greatest asset. Trust that it’s not all for nothing. Trust that you’re strong enough to go through it. Trust that the same energy that moves the universe, that organizes the entire universe into one brilliant symphony, the intelligent principle that crafted the stars and the constellations, that that energy is flowing through you, it is you.
Trust that one day your blood, sweat and tears will eventually crystallize into one magnificent aggregate. Trust that, just as coal must be subjected to the most intense pressure in order to form a diamond, you must also endure trials if you are going to shine. As Seneca once wrote, “A gem cannot be polished with friction, nor a human perfected without trials.”
Trust that still, small voice that always seems to know exactly what you need and exactly where you’re going.
You have to keep going because your perseverance over whatever you’re going through is more mammoth a victory than you could ever possibly imagine.
You have to keep going because, fuck it, you’ve come this far, and this is not the hill you are going to die on.
You have to keep going because your life isn’t falling apart, it’s falling together.