Pain is part of life. Desperation and depression are parts of life. Sometimes touching rock bottom is part of life. But it is definitely not the end of life. It is just the beginning of something bigger, much more spiritually rich than before.
Some time ago, life placed a great challenge in front of me. The person I loved most, suddenly died in my arms. I still remember it as if it had happened yesterday, but it’s been nearly 20 years. How time flies!
I had read all those stories about people dying in car accidents, in war, even in shootings, or in hospital; I also vaguely remembered my grandfather’s funeral, but that was as close to death as I had been. With my mother it was different. She passed away in my arms, and for the first time in my life I realised that people really died. At least they leave their body. That’s what I felt with her, yet night after night, I begged for her to come back and stay with me, even for just a short time, but she didn’t.
I will never forget that horrible feeling of abandonment that haunted my life for the following few years. First, I lost my faith in God. How could He take the life of someone so precious, a human being so good, at such a young age, instead of all the bad people that are allowed to grow old? I could no longer believe in a God as unjust as that
Next, I fell into a deep depression from which I couldn’t recover for several years. Worse, my drinking increased dramatically. The values on which I had tried to build a decent life started to crumble. It was as if I had fallen into the deepest abysses of hell. The joy of my life was over. Why keep on living?
But now, looking back at that terrible time of my life, I can clearly see the one thing that kept me alive: hope. Hope that sooner or later, things would change for the better. Although my life was hell and I couldn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel, I knew that I had to fight to survive. The only fight you cannot win is the one you are not willing to fight. And the only dream that you cannot make come true is the one you cease to dream.
When I was finally able to look back more objectively at those sad years, I realised that I had made a terrible misjudgment: by blaming God for the death of my mother, I had condemned myself to a life without faith. I had tried to play God by judging God. How arrogant! Who did I think I was?
So I asked for help. And I prayed for true humility. I prayed for forgiveness. For I believe it is when you are truly humble, when you grab someone’s hand, begging for help, a hand that feels stronger and can hold you, and not let you fall—that is when you start to discover that the best days are yet to come. Despite the death of a loved one, depression, abuse of drugs or alcohol, disease or any other strong and devastating pain, sooner or later you learn that the pain must eventually stop, because it cannot go any deeper. You have touched rock bottom. Then, and only then, do you start to realise that you have a second chance to rebuild your life, if you take it. Finally the dark clouds start to dissipate, and the first rays of the new sun illuminate your future. A rebirth of your soul has begun, anchored by an acceptance of the way things are.
I remember well one idea that would revolve over and over in my mind when I felt so depressed, so alone, so many years ago: Why did it happen to me? Why me?
But when the first glimpse of the new sun started to warm my cold days, another question popped into my head. Why not me? Am I above the laws of nature? Am I so arrogant to think that I should be free of suffering, pain and sorrow, while other human beings are not?
And I understood something very important. Pain is part of life. Desperation and depression are parts of life. Sometimes touching rock bottom is part of life. But it is definitely not the end of life. It is just the beginning of something bigger, much more spiritually rich than before.
Just as age is only a trick of time, so is pain just one aspect of life. Happiness and peace of spirit and mind can be achieved; no matter how deeply lost one may feel. Time cures everything, but you have to be patient. It doesn’t happen in an instant or in a day. But when you least expect it, it happens. And when it happens, something extraordinary occurs: you stop fighting against your fate. You accept your life as it is, and instead of trying to push for what you want, you just let life guide you to your destiny. You start to live with what life gives you, one day at a time.
You don’t have any shoes to wear? Tell that to a person who doesn’t have any feet!
I believe that all creatures of the Universe have a purpose in life. There is no creature too small or insignificant not to have something beautiful to give. Being different from all the others is not always a bad thing; often, in fact, it is a blessing.
During one of my trips around the world, in South Africa, a very wise man told me a story of a white eagle that lives in that region of the continent.
The great white eagle of Africa is a bird that lives longer than any other bird of its species—up to 70 years. But before it can reach that age, it has to make the toughest decision of its entire life.
At age 40 its claws turn stiff against its breast. Its wings shrink and become very heavy. Its feathers thicken. Flying is almost impossible. So the white eagle has two choices: to die, or to go through the painful ordeal of renovation, that will last 150 days. This process consists of flying high up a mountain and building a nest close to a high cliff where it won’t need to fly. Then, after settling into its nest, the eagle starts to knock its beak relentlessly against the rocks, until it is able to tear it off. After that, it has to wait for a new one to grow, and it will use that to pluck the feathers just above its claws. When the new claws start to grow, the eagle gets rid of all its old feathers, and then after five months of excruciating pain finally raises its wings of renewal to a new life that will let it survive another thirty years.
Many times in our lives we have to step back and lick our wounds for a while, until they heal, and then start a process of renewal. In order to continue following our dreams, we have to discard old habits, useless traditions and painful memories. Only when we are free of the burden of the past will we be able to take advantage of what a renewal brings. In order to be young, once again, like the white eagle.
The most terrible darkness is not the one that clouds our eyes and makes us blind, but the one we harbor in the deepest recesses of our hearts. Likewise, the brightest light is not the one that bathes the outside of our bodies, but the one that burns from the open pits of the heart and glows warmly through the eyes. Let this light guide you to the fulfilment of your destiny; trust your instincts, no matter what the others might think or say
I have learned that here on earth some people might be able to stand out because of their abilities. But I have also realised that the happiest human beings are not those who have been able to stand out, but those that have learned to accept themselves for who they are. So try acceptance! Love yourself for who you are. Never compare yourself to others; that is not the reason you are on Earth. Deal with your advantages and disadvantages, and make of your life a song of joy. But remember that to be fully happy, you must sometimes be brave. Make life not only a song, but a melodious prayer that enriches your spirit. Try to discover that light that comes from within. Don’t count your misfortunes – count your blessings. More than that; we who are not suffering now have the duty to help those who are living through their own private hell. We have to let them know what we have already learned: hold on tight while you suffer, because sooner rather than later your suffering will end. How can you shine if you don’t clash with the darkness? It is with much effort and work that we strengthen our souls, and one day you will realise that your sadness is made of thin air. Nobody should be sad forever for the mistakes or misfortunes from the past. Forgiveness of one’s self is essential in order to be at peace with the world. I have made many mistakes in my life, and I have finally learned not to judge others. As for the mistakes I will undoubtedly make, the responsibility will be all mine.
Perhaps the most difficult thing to bear is loneliness or solitude. I know how it feels; I’ve been there. So what to do when circumstances force us into a solitary existence? First, if you are fortunate enough to have a variety of interests, you must make a real effort to develop them. Failing that, you can reach out and help the less fortunate. If you are not up to that, you are thrown back to the conscious cultivation of your five senses and intellectual powers. At the very least, you can tell God every morning that you hold yourself available for use as His instrument, if only by praying to Him to bless everyone you meet. Remember: Nothing is too far away to be brought closer.
Acceptance of your reality is the starting point for a rich life that will let you take advantage of all the good things that you still have. Living one day at a time. Enjoying one moment at a time. Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace. Accepting this sometimes painful world as it is; not as you would have it be. Trusting that God, or whatever you want to call him, will make all things right if you surrender to his will. In this way, not only will you be reasonably happy in this life, but supremely happy forever in the next.
Sergio Bambaren is an Australian citizen who was lives in Lima, Peru. A keen surfer, Sergio left his position as General Manager of a UK based company at the young age 34, to pursue his dreams and find the true purpose of his life. His love of the ocean inspired his first novel ‘The Dolphin—Story of a Dreamer’ recently republished by Hay House.
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