1. “You only need the light when it’s burning low.”
Just think about how great it is to know you need the light while you have the light. To relish in its glow and warmth. To take in all it illuminates as it expands and seeps into the fuzzy edges of darkness. It’s a rush of awe and elation to suddenly see the value in what sits quietly in your palm. It’s a deliberate removal from the jaded normalcy to realize that you once didn’t have this light, and it was all you could think about – it’s a chance to relive the beauty of acquiring that which you most desire.
And yet, we so rarely have the presence of mind to turn our eyes from the road disappearing into the horizon to the footprints beneath our feet. Only when we are on the verge of losing something we value does it dawn on us with such urgency that to be without it would change our world. Like breathing, we become so accustomed to certain things that we can forget their presence, even if that presence is constant and perpetual. It’s a strange ability – in many ways endearing, because it shows how we are able to accept with a routine, organic contentment the state of possessing that which we need. It gives the feeling of some sort of purpose to that possession; again, like breathing.
On the other hand, it highlights the universal flaw in human nature to take for granted what we have until we no longer have it, leaving us to feel that we have traded appreciation and gratitude for a gluttonous presumptuousness. There’s nothing wrong with wanting and needing things, but it’s good to be conscious of what you do have, especially in a world where so many people are unable to even get what they need, let alone what they want.
2. “Only know you’ve been high when you’re feeling low.”
This line struck me as well, in many ways the inverse of the first line. It speaks to the value in our low points. It is, after all, likely for lessons learned the hard way to stick to our bones more emphatically than those passed on by others. Therefore, it is only in the daunting darkness of low points that we recognize the value in the light we were once lucky enough to have; at least, this means it will be more likely that if we are able to stumble upon that light again, we will appreciate it. Not only that, but after a bout of darkness, it will seem to glow even brighter.
Of course, we are in many ways fickle and inconsistent when it comes to what we want. A simple enough example would be the weather. When I’m commuting to work in the summer heat, sweating after three steps, everything in me misses and wishes for the cold of winter. I feel confident that I would rather be cold than hot, any day of the week. Eventually, my wish is granted. And as my teeth chatter, feet numb, and fingers freeze to the point of painful itch, I chastise myself for ever being so foolish as to wish away the sun’s touch. Undoubtedly, it is better to be hot than cold.
The point is, I’ve finally learned to remember how much the cold hurt while the sun beats down on me, and how unpleasant it is to be sweaty while I walk briskly to the train on snowy sidewalks. It makes a difference; if anything, since I can’t control the weather, I should at least make an effort to control my perspective on it.
3. “Dreams come so slow and they go so fast.”
This seems to be true about anything we may covet: love, success, money, fulfillment, trust. We can take years to build trust with someone, tending to it in every way, and then – in a moment like a rain drop in the context of all that’s already happened stretching around like an ocean – we can send it cascading down. We can painstakingly add pennies to our savings account, watch it inch upwards over years, and then life can happen, circumstance can impose itself upon us and force us to bulldoze through the account in one sad swipe of a card. Why is it that we can push ourselves to the point of breaking to attain something that can shatter into nothingness with far greater ease?
I think this universal imbalance, while at times annoying, disappointing, and perhaps heartbreaking, serves a purpose. Appreciation and learning to treat hard-earned rewards of our endeavors with the care they deserve are valuable results. Things worth having are worth holding on to and protecting; essentially, the effort doesn’t end, it just changes. We guard our delicate, hard-earned triumph because if it was worth working for, it’s worth caring for.
More than that, it may feel like a consolation prize, but character is not bought or stumbled upon. It’s sculpted and strengthened over time. Scars do not mar our body but rather mark them with an emblem of survival, a tribute to our fortitude emblazoned upon our skin – emanating the strength we might never have known we possessed if we were not forced to exhibit it. There is nothing more powerful than realizing a strength within you that you knew nothing of. You look at yourself and see inside your familiar skin a warrior, not hungry for battle, but ready to survive. A scar cannot exist among dust – its presence says: I have not been crushed; I’m right here.
We’ve all been hopeful for something, letting our spirits and expectations expand until buoyant, only to be punctured and leave us feeling dejected and deflated. In other words, being disappointed sucks. There’s no way around that – BUT there is a way through it and that is probably the more rewarding route in the end. Each disappointment offers something of value, even if it is only the lesson that we won’t get everything we want. Better to know sooner than later. And, as with anything, the more we experience it, the more comfortable with it we become. Not that we all wish to become so familiar with disappointment that we are defined by it, but to know that it’s not the end of the world leaves us in a state of mind in which we are more likely to be willing to charge into the fray again – efforts applied, expectations high, chasing something we want more than we can say. Truly, the worst disappointment is to fear disappointment so much, we abandon hope and passion.
So get amped – use your disappointment as motivation to come back harder, smarter, better. Charge back into the world. Even the act of shaking off despair in exchange for determination will serve as an energy boost and catalyst for action. Make a plan, set a new goal, and start working toward it; see to it that while tears release some disappointment, the rest comes out through sweat.