As I get back into my new routine, returning to the place my hubby and I call home now, I’m reminded of a quote that I’ve kept with me for decades and one that my protagonist in my “I’m going to finish it this year” novel reads in a pivotal moment in her life:
These great turning-days of life cast no shadow before, slip by unconsciously. Only a trifle, a little turn of the rudder, and the ship goes to heaven or hell. — Rebecca Harding Davis.
It’s one of sentiments that crosses all boundaries. It doesn’t matter who you are or where you come from, what you believe or don’t believe, everyone can relate to those words. I like that. A lot.
My Brain’s Way of Working It Out
Here’s what my brain interprets that quote to be: We walk through our lives and get caught up in the things that take up space in it. We work, pay our bills, get pissed off at this or that, we’re “happy” one day and then we think to ourselves, “I’ll be happy when I get this or make X amount of money or find Mr. or Ms. Right.”
All part of our humanness of trying to figure it all out. We take things for granted and then WHAM!, something blindsides you and all those “great” days that didn’t “cast a shadow” do. We want those back and this new thing in front of us — we stumble, sludge our way through it until we figure out how to deal with it — in our minds, hearts and soul — we handle it and it changes us.
Then those everyday things seem like heaven, right?
Here’s the thing though. I don’t know if we ever figure it out. I think we’re here because we’re meant to inspire and help others. Before you call me an eternal optimist or think to yourself, Here she goes with the positive crap, or think I’m being all kindness and that my world is always wonderful, then think again.
Depression — It is a Bitch
I’ve had and have my days of depression. Not quite two decades ago, I was on medication — not for long — a year or two if I remember correctly, to try and make that kind of thing go away. I’ve gone to therapy (which I wholeheartedly support as long as one does the work) and my ship has been in hell more than a few times.
As I’ve grown older and learned coping mechanisms, I’ve learned that it is just that — a little turn of the rudder — and I’m the master of my ship.
It takes much work, constant really, to keep your ship steering in the right direction. What I found was that as long as I made an effort, despite what external things were happening in my life, as long as I had the breath and help and desire to know that things could be good again and I could be happy again, I was okay.
For the grace of God (or Bob or whatever you call the omnipotent thing one prays/talks to or maybe just your soul), I’m here.
It took decades for me to come to this place. A long, self-discovery kind of groovy journey. But I did learn and I’ve gleaned knowledge that I think I had all along. I think we all have that deep something inside us that tells us — Yes! Do this! or No! Don’t do that!
Think about it. If you look back on the “mistakes” in your life, there was a itchy, nudgey kind of thing trying to tell you something. We either ignore it or listen to it. The consequences of those decisions are what bring us to where we are at this moment. But maybe all things lead us to where we need to be.
What I’ve Learned For What It’s Worth
I treasure and love every ‘bad’ and ‘good’ thing that’s happened to me. It’s made who I am and I love me now. It took a long time to get here and I know that from the counsel and advice I give to my family and to friends, that they are grateful for the me I am now too.
So, I hope this post didn’t come across as preachy or I that know it all. Because I don’t. But I do know this: Life can be a heaven or a hell and the choice is really within our control.
There are numerous accounts of this from Anne Frank to Nelson Mandela to Viktor Frankl to Gandhi to Jesus Christ to Rosa Parks to….so many more. People of love and peace and goodness that didn’t allow external forces to control who they were — the essence of their soul — their goodness. I’m not in any shape, form or fashion claiming to be among these people, but I do try to glean inspiration from them — the way they think because they seem (and seemed) at peace. When one’s at peace – now that’s heaven.
I’ll take heaven over hell any day.
And 2013, she’s gonna be my bitch — in a very good, peaceful and loving way.