Last year was an exceptionally difficult year. It’s the kind of year that after you make it through, you think, “Well, I can make it through anything.” The losses were brutal, untimely, and sometimes lasting. The pains came in multitudes, and often. The reasons to cry seemed plentiful whilst the reasons to laugh seemed scarce. Melancholy, I think, was the emotion that ruled the year. If it was a year that I could have chosen not to get out of bed, I might have. (Indeed, there were some days that I didn’t.)
But I have been thinking about this year that I characterized as difficult. I have been thinking about the good things that happened – the good things that in my characterization of this period, I sometimes forget to remember. More importantly, the cliché is true – I feel stronger because of the difficult year.
I know that I am often the person who comes across as lecturing; always lecturing – myself to do better, and the people around me to do better. It’s not because I believe in perfection. In fact the older I get, “perfection” seems wholly undesirable even if it were to exist. But perhaps one way I show love and care is in challenging the human spirit to believe it is made for more. The other way I show love however, is ensuring that same spirit knows its worth, independent of what it accomplishes. Love comes in many forms.
I say a lot of things about “human beings” – I give a lot of critiques about us and our behavior. But one of the things that is a foundation of my perspective is that we’re all here to take care of each other. It’s why I will always believe in helping thy neighbor, and liking or disliking them has nothing to do with it. Love for humanity means helping the person in need.
And so understanding that sometimes people just need kind words to get them through the day, these are mine for anyone who is going through a difficult time:
I dare you to feel your pain. To notice how the emotional and mental hurts, become physical pains that you carry. I dare you to allow them to become a part of you. But to never let them become all of you.
I dare you to believe that you are strong enough to face this, whatever “this” is. To know that some days strength might mean facing the world with a sad smile. On other days, strength will mean sitting in bed, just being okay.
I dare you to cry on a friend’s shoulder. That you might have to suffer in this lifetime, at any time, is a given. But there is nothing in the logic of life that requires you to suffer alone.
I dare you to forgive those who’ve hurt you, knowingly and unknowingly. I dare you to free yourself from harboring the bitterness that comes with holding onto weariness of the past, bringing you unnecessary pain in the present.
I dare you to meet everyone with kindness. And not despite the things that break your heart from time to time, but rather because of them. That you see and realize the heartbreak in others. And it makes you want to lighten their burden, even just a little.
I dare you to be patient with life. To know that it changes more than you think it does. To realize that the ugliness of the day can be turned into the beauty of tomorrow. And to also be patient with yourself, and to know that you too are a piece of artwork that is unfinished.
I dare you to keep on loving. That even if your heart has been damaged or broken, split open into more pieces than you can count, devastated, squandered, bruised and used; that you keep on with that imperfect but relentlessly powerful heart. Because the heart is spectacular in this way: It always heals.
I dare you to believe in happiness. In a happiness that is not measured by a state of mood or circumstance. A happiness that is not fleeting or self-serving or contingent upon conditions for which you cannot control. That even in interim despair, this happiness is your recourse; this happiness will save you.
I dare you to believe in tomorrow. Not because it is promised to you – it isn’t. But because it is that place in which possibility exists. The possibilities that the struggles you encounter will become the testimonies you celebrate.
But above all, I dare you to believe in today. In this hour, in this moment, and in you. That your life has brought you to it; that you can survive it simply by being in it. I dare you to be in your life in this moment. In this moment, I dare you just to be.