Do you see in the lighter shadows,
The beauty they subtly paint?
Inside the heart of pain imposed,
Is a glimmer of light, though faint.
You don’t realize what you have until it’s taken from you. You think you have it bad until it’s worse.
I had another ghastly week last week. One of vision blurring pain and only getting out of bed to use the restroom and falling/half-fainting half the time I did so. But then that week ended, and because of it, I see the world more beautifully than before.
A lot of the time my life feels like a valley of deathly shadows. Maybe I’m melodramatic, but maybe I’m not. Maybe the majority of us spend our lives walking through shadows: pain, fear, heartbreak, disappointment, loneliness, trials. Even life’s best moments seem to be tainted with something bitter. Grieving, joblessness, and money pits don’t take breaks for Christmas.
One thing I do know, if we focus on the dark, it will consume us.
The thing about shadows is that they require light.
This time, as I climbed out of my shadowy ravine, I realized how wonderful my typical day-to-day condition is. Sure, there isn’t ever a twenty-four-hour period when symptoms don’t strictly dictate what I do and don’t do. But even in that, there are things I can do! That’s awesome. Seriously.
So skip through your days without pain; they are a beautiful blessing. Enjoy delicious food without a stomach ache or vomiting; it is a gift. Take the time to smile and listen to others and absorb the moment. Feel the fresh breeze on your cheek, the sunshine on your arms, the love of your family. “Come run the hidden pine trails of the forest. Come taste the sun sweet berries of the earth. Come roll in all the riches all around you-” and for once consider what they are worth. There is so much light surrounding us, and it is most clearly seen after the darkest night.
During my post-flare recovery days this week, I watched writing conference lectures online. (This has a tie-in for everyone, stick with me). Of late I’ve been struggling with my novel. It is broad, sprawling, and I felt, aimless. I couldn’t figure out why or what to do. I decided to set the behemoth aside this week and simply absorb the lectures. With the help of some excellent authors and top-notch advice, I believe I have puzzled out a solution, an easy one: little additions here, little takeaways there, a bit of refocusing, streamlining, and it will work. Phew! Last year wasn’t a waste!
I think we all have similar problems when it comes to big projects of any kind: artistry, entrepreneurship, parenting, business owning, blogging, any and every specialization. “What am I even doing? What is this mess? Will it ever get to the point of being right or at least acceptable?” It’s easy for us to become muddled, doubtful, and defeated.
Here’s what I suggest:
- Take a break. Your head needs space to breathe and let things go. As vital as this is, it alone is not enough, not for me. Whenever I do return, I face the same issues as before without solutions. Unless I:
- Remember the inspiration. Why are you doing your project in the first place? Does it have an inherent value? Or will the end goal? Have you lost sight of its worth in the process of creating? How can you return or recenter yourself on its significance and allow it to guide and fuel your future efforts?
- Research the topic. While you are taking a break, youtube your topic, attend online lectures, read a book, an article, a blog. Oftentimes taking in more professional advice will either directly address the issue you face, or give you needed tools in a roundabout way.
- Go outside and think. Something about nature, fresh air, open spaces, movement, and the lack of pressure to PRODUCE, allows the mind to have hope, freedom, and the time and room to seed.
- Try again. Don’t give up. If your project had a purpose to begin with, it has a purpose now. It may need tweaking, it may need an overhaul, but it’s worth it. If you are willing to put in the time and effort, it will pay off and become something you will never regret.
My best love and encouragement,
*Lyrics from Disney’s Pocahontas