At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us."
- Albert Schweitzer
This quote leapt out at me from a dear friends email signature. In light of the many recent suicides both locally in my community as well as in the larger world community, I am reminded of the potency and influence that human contact can have on our state of being.
I suffered from severe depression myself for many years – suicidally depressed for long stretches of time, medicated so that I could emerge from bed everyday….years of darkness in which I barely remember those moments of light – although I know that they were there. Outwardly, no one would have known the despair I was in although my inner conflict was alive. My existence felt misaligned, conflicted, dysfunctional. I was a yogi, a healer…on the outside beautiful and connected.
I related to the world to the best of my ability, when asked to.
Yet, although my outer demeanor spoke of connectedness, smiles, laughter, and hope, my inner life was screaming in pain. I felt alone in my sorrow – confused as to why and how I could possibly be feeling in such despair – remorse for doing so when I lived a life of such privilege.
The shoulds did not help my already overwhelming guilt for feeling so damn miserable despite having seemingly all of my needs met. I felt alone, lonely in my darkness, and only a select few understood the space I was actually in – and loved me fiercely anyhow -- met me in my darkness, listened to me, and reflected back to me the goodness and truth that they saw in me and felt when they connected to my heart. At the times when I was at my lowest – buried in the face of depression and despair – these beings brought their light to meet me and, if only for a moment, I felt it. I had an embodied sense of the light at the end of that long, dark tunnel. I knew it was there in those fleeting moments and something during those times kept me going. The flame was a glimmer of hope and provided me the opportunity to tap into the space of possibility.
I will never forget those times. Never.
They have shaped me and inspired me and humbled me in ways that I could not have been if I hadn’t gone through them.
They have offered me the capacity to feel compassion on a cellular level for the struggle of the human condition – for the pain that so many suffer from day-to-day.
They have inspired me to live every day awake and aware – with consciousness and presence – no matter what is occurring.
They have had the influence to keep me in check and when I fall down these days, I get back up – brush myself off – and carry forward.
I absolutely still have my moments, my days, my weeks – through my regular meditation practice I have learned to work with my mind to support myself in shifting my state of being…to remind myself of the impermanence of the conditions of living a human life. That “this too shall pass” – if I open and allow it to. That I do not have to hold onto these states of suffering, that I actually do have a choice. I have perspective– something that I did not have access to during those dark days and nights. The heavy times of not knowing how I was going to get through another day – and not wanting to.
So, here I am – 43 years old – it has been many years since I have experienced a dip that far down -- many years since I had to pop a pill to keep some semblance of a smile on my face. And, I still witness myself “go there”. I still find myself having moments, days, weeks where I feel off – I feel down – depressed – dark….yet they happen few and far between. I now know that my mind is powerful way of healing myself and I use it. I don’t allow myself to stay down for long. I reach out to those select friends who see me, who understand me, who care about me, who love me….those beautiful beings who share their light when I have lost touch with mine. I am grateful. I am humbled. I am alive. And, most days I am smiling.
Magic happens when we truly feel seen, loved, and accepted by another. May we continually gravitate towards those who enhance our state of being, inspire us to be who we are, and who mirror back to us our greatness. And, may we open our hearts to strangers, make eye contact, smile at them – remembering that we have no idea what is going on in their inside world and perhaps our light will remind them of their own.