Let’s give a cheer to those who are the embodiment of the human spirit.
Every morning I sit on the front deck and drink my coffee, watching people propelling themselves through life. And I’m in awe of how people can keep going. What a wonder the human spirit is.
I watch office workers, jolted out of their slumber by the alarm clock, who have shovelled in their breakfast, thrown on their clothes and rush to catch the train to a job they hate. I say good morning to elderly neighbours who gingerly walk around the block trying to get their creaky bones and foggy heads working after a night of constant pain and little sleep. I wave to the woman from down the road who has lost her mother after a long fight with cancer. She is shrouded in grief, yet she gets her kids up and dressed, the lunches made and has, against all odds, got the kids to school on time again. And I cheer my mate, overwhelmed by anxiety and depression who runs, every morning. He forces himself out of bed when what he wants is to pull the doona over his head and disappear. Where’s his medal? Where are all of their medals?
No one will ever know the extent of the battles some people among us are fighting and how tough they are finding life. How they find the courage, the bravery and the blind hope to push them through the day. When everything is such an effort some people are only able to live in five-minute increments. Lurching from one coffee to the next. From one mood swing to the next. From one wave of pain to the next. These are people whose favourite part of the day is the moment before they fall asleep. Because they know they’ll have a break from their pain. These people’s boilers aren’t working and all they are operating with is the pilot light. That’s why these people are my heroes.
Winston Churchill said, “When you find yourself in hell, just keep going.”
While many of us have the luxury of spending our time discussing house prices, Mary-Kate and Ashley’s lattes being spiked with full-fat milk or “Is it art? Is it porn?” so many around us are struggling. I saw a postcard last week that reminded me of how tough some people are doing it: “Be kind — for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”
You don’t read much about pain in the newspaper. But it’s all around us. It’s all politics, sport, terror, business, celebrities, the economy and recipes. For many, gloom and doom is a welcome distraction from the lacerating pain of their broken heart, the weight of their depression or the terrifying and overwhelming pull of addiction.
We only have one life. The idea is to make the most of it. Some people have more options than others. For those with options sometimes that in itself can be the weight.
Could change lead you to a better life? And if so, then what change? If only there were mortgage brokers for life who could run your stats through a computer program and furnish us all with the best life solution. “Option five provides you with the highest level of satisfaction and the lowest level of dissatisfaction. So lose weight, sell your house, stay with your wife, become a dentist, stop eating cheese and buy a new mattress.”
Not everyone can keep going. Some people’s pain is so profound that the only place they find peace is in death. Like many I have been touched by suicide and, as difficult as it is to comprehend, deep in my heart I know my loved ones were just desperate to find peace.
Let’s help others in pain find some sweet relief. Let’s start a cheer squad for people overwhelmed by emotional pain, physical pain, exhaustion and insomnia. For parents up with babies night after night, people caring for the sick and disabled round the clock and for those whose lives have been ripped apart at the seams. Let’s cheer them on from the sidelines: “You bloody legend! You’re a hero! Just. Keep. Going.”
There’s a website called grouphug for anonymous online confessions. And amid all the pain I found this contribution: “There are two things that I have found to always be true in life, no matter what.
1. Every day the sun will rise. It is a different day with endless possibilities.
2. This too will pass. These words, engraved on an ancient Sultan’s ring, made him solemn in happy times and happy during sad times. Remember these always.”
You are amazing. You’re doing a great job. Just. Keep. Going.
(When I wrote this in 2008 I was suffering major depression and got through using therapy, exercise and writing. I can’t over emphasise how much good WRITING this piece did me. I had been struggling for months. I woke that morning and was due to file a column. I had nothing. I thought ‘I can’t. I’ll go to the GP and get some medication. I can’t do this on my own any more’ despite the fact I’d been in therapy, exercising regularly etc for months. I got the little boys off to school made an appointment at the doctor for 11.30am and sat at my laptop and said to myself ‘Write. This has been what has saved you before. Write.’ I wrote this column, cancelled the appointment and everything started to look up. Every year I repost it. Because reading things like this helped me so much at the time. Writing saves people’s lives. I am here to serve x