Let the Light In
As someone who has dealt with depression from a young age, I have come to place a high value on the symbol of light. Lanterns that light your way through the dark forest. Flashlights that illuminate the path ahead. The glow of hope.
Light brings you home when you’re on the choppy seas. Light alleviates fear. Light makes room for joy. Light exposes beauty.
When you struggle with darkness, you find that the thing you value the most is simply light.
You don’t have to struggle with depression to feel this way, however. Life is full of the beautiful contrast between light and dark. Every day, every moment is a reflection of one or the other and every choice we make determines how much light we will experience.
The interesting thing about life is that there are two ways to approach it:
1. Fight the darkness.
2. Embrace the light.
Most of us, in our go-get-’em, Type A culture are encouraged to try approach #1. Fight, fight, fight.
And yet, for so many of us, we fight our most valiant fight, winning a few battles here and there, but ultimately, we find ourselves losing the war. We wake up every day with the same old troubles, trying so desperately to wade through, to dig out, to emerge.
Some days are good, some days are lighter, and we believe, we hope that we’re on the upswing. We’re making forward motion.
And then a week or a month later, somehow, we end up feeling like we’ve fallen down to the bottom rung of our ladder. It’s like the Go to Jail card in Monopoly: Do not pass Go. Do not collect $200. You are stuck. Again.
Eventually, you are left staring in the mirror wondering what is wrong with you. Why can’t you be more successful? Why can’t you get over your fears? Why can’t you lose those ten pounds? Why can’t you be more beautiful or sexy or competent or smart?
What is this frustrating trend that we all experience from time to time? Why can’t we beat the darkness once and for all?
I’ve come to believe something that once seemed strange to me — something so simple it’s almost funny.
I believe that the answer — the solution — lies not in Scenario #1, but in Scenario #2: Embrace the light.
Stop fighting. Stop striving. Stop trying so damn hard.
Instead, keep your eyes on the light.
Here’s why I used to be skeptical about this approach:
- Isn’t it important to strive to be a better person?
- Shouldn’t I be reaching higher, trying harder?
- Isn’t it living in denial to ignore my flaws and mistakes, and only focus on my good qualities and successful choices?
- Won’t I end up sabotaging myself if I don’t keep my dukes up and make sure I’m ready for whatever challenge and obstacle that comes my way?
But here’s what I’ve learned in the past ten years:
- You are a perfect, beautiful soul, made by an infinitely loving creator. We pile a lot of mud on top of our perfect souls, but that is not who we really are. So trying to make ourselves better is impossible. All we need to do is wash away the mud.
- You’re already living in denial if you focus on “fixing” your flaws. Imagine how much energy you would free up if you focused on your successes, your good qualities, your positive choices.
- If you live your life always prepared to fight, you will always be at war.
The truth is, traveling through the darkness is a huge part of our spiritual journey. No one can escape this. It’s part of the hero’s journey and we’re all here to take that journey.
How did Vasalisa find her way? Little Red Riding Hood? Inanna? By following the light of their souls.
That light is within you, at this very moment. Even if you fear it has abandoned you, it hasn’t. It will never leave you because it is part of who you are.
How do you find your light? How do you follow it? Embrace it? Here’s how I try to get through the darkness:
I lived in disguise for decades. Only a few, close family members got to see who I really was. The rest of the world saw the edited, redacted version of Yael.
I once made it my life’s mission to make sure no one really knew me. I didn’t share my opinions about anything but the most shallow subjects. I didn’t talk about myself, my relationships, and certainly not my dreams. I rarely shared anything on social media and when I did, I’d erase it within a few months.
It took years, but I eventually saw that the road I was on was leading to nothing. I was deeply depressed, isolated, and hopeless. I had to hit my breaking point in order to finally start pursuing my dreams with a passion. And that’s when I realized I had to start being myself — always and no matter what.
Every day, I seek out anything that gives me a “hit” of joy or that catches my eye. I make a conscious choice to stop and take notice or take an experience to a deeper level. Take a picture. Close my eyes. Breathe.
There is so much beauty in this world. It is always waiting for us to notice it.
I have to remember that light will always come. In fact, I must decide on that and not change my mind.
I try to remember in the hard times that my light adds more light to the world. Others are making it through with their flashlights, their torches, their lanterns, their lamps. When I shine my light, it shines on others, amplifying their light, which in turn amplifies mine.
Each day is a new chance to hold our lanterns high. Even if we don’t have much light to cast, we can keep our focus on what’s right in front of us — what’s visible by the light we do have.
One step at a time, we’ll make it through the darkness.
© Yael Wolfe 2020
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