2018 has been a difficult year. I know I am not alone in this experience, and in some ways that makes it even more challenging, knowing that most of the people I know and love have felt the struggles and difficulties of this year too.
In previous years I would have found myself looking to the future, holding on to the knowledge that nothing lasts forever, and all hard times must come to an end.
But this year it felt different. It began to feel never-ending, and since almost everyone I know is struggling to, it has also felt all consuming.
Truth be told, I got to the point where I felt like my hope had given up entirely.
It was just a couple of weeks ago that I finally had to face what I have been feeling and decide how to move forward.
You see, in early November I caught what I thought was just a cold. Then it turned into an ear infection that wouldn’t go away. Insert doctor’s visit and antibiotics here. Then, two weeks later, I had a feeling there was more to my sore throat than just an antibiotic side effect. Insert a strep diagnosis from my second doctor’s visit coupled with a second round of antibiotics.
Yes, that’s probably enough to have anyone feeling deflated… and that’s certainly how I was feeling.
But this was weeks of being sick after an already emotionally exhaustive year. This year has been such a dance with my shadow, with so much soul work sending me to the darkest corners of my psyche. That to end the year with being sick for weeks on end? It was like throwing salt in the wound. Need I even mention the current events happening in the world that suggest we as a species have lost all empathy and desire to even try to make the world a better place for those we share it with?
So it is no surprise to me that just a couple of weeks ago I found myself coming to the realization that I had found myself in a pit of hopelessness. Not only was I constantly asking myself what kind of future are we even creating right now, but I added in the second question of whether or not there would even be a future if we don’t start taking care of the planet?
I wish I could say there was some grand ah-ha moment which I could remember exactly because that would make more a much better story.
But in truth, it was more of the slow unraveling. Once I realized that this was not a dark place I wanted to stay in, I started looking for my way out. It mostly involved a lot of questions placed upon myself and digging deep for real answers.
Ultimately, what I decided, was that even if the world is inevitably doomed and there is nothing we can do to ensure a long and lasting future for generations to come, did I really want to live for however many years I have left feeling hopeless and stuck and like no future exists beyond tomorrow?
Did I want to live with the belief that there is nothing at all that can be done to make the world a better place…. or was I ready to reignite my passionate belief that it is better to hold on to hope, and better to live each moment trying to make the world a better place for all its inhabitants? Was I ready to re-claim my belief that the way to change the world is to believe it can be saved and that those who live on this planet are worth saving?
I can’t say that it was some magical cure all, and that I am suddenly finding myself in the optimistic belief that this path is easy or will even a short task to create the change I wish to see in the world.
In some ways, the hope that I am holding on to is that it may be a long and arduous process throughout my lifetime where again and again I need to re-commit to myself that I still believe it is worth it to make the world a better place…. but nevertheless, I am choosing to believe that the path along the way towards a better future for the planet and all who live here is worth it. I am choosing to believe that hope is still worth holding on to.
I am choosing to believe that even if life on this planet came to a catastrophic end in twenty years, it is still worth living in the present moment and putting my effort and energy towards believing that a better future is still worth creating.
Like I said, I haven’t fully embraced the path of optimism, and maybe that’s just what it means to be someone who lives with anxiety while still trying to hold on to the hope. But even if my brand of hope isn’t all sunshine and rainbows, I still believe that holding on to hope, for me, is the best way to believe that moving forward and truly living is worth it.