It is quite possible to feel happy and sad at the same time. There is a stiffness and light to our very being. Humans are complicated, sensitive, overthinking creatures, full of riddles and contradictions, most of which we will never be able to reconcile or make sense of. As humans we are prone to tormenting ourselves. Our attention is rather like a spotlight, and when it illuminates one thing it shrouds the rest in darkness. In this way we can become trapped in negative or dark spaces. We become so stiff and rigid that we worry that we might never be able to move again or find a way out.
When we are caught in the slipstream of life (or swept away by the thoughts inside our heads) it is easy to feel overwhelmed and lose our balance. Clarity, purpose and joy are, of course, things that we wish to aim for and savour. They are nourishing and help to keep our spirit feeling light. But these are not physical realities or things that are external to us; rather, they belong to our state of mind, which means they can very rarely be held constant throughout our lifetimes. Difficult emotions and experiences will inevitably arise and throw things we took for certain into question again, but it is important to remember that this is a natural part of life and the human condition, and we should not punish or reprimand ourselves for it.
In our quest for happiness and understanding we try to place order and meaning on what is random and uncontrollable. We forget that part of the beauty of life is that it is chaotic and unknowable. Our internal worlds far exceed the space of the external one we live in. The human mind has the capacity to travel far within our own conscious awareness; through landscapes that are wonderful and awe-inspiring, as well as treacherous and terrifying. We can scale vast summits or tumble down into trenches of abyssal darkness. Our inner landscapes are places of infinite and intricate complexity and richness.
Often it is only when we reach a point of unbearable tension, pain or fragility that we are able to discover our most extraordinary strengths and capabilities. Although it is in our nature to want to escape feelings that are unsettling or uncomfortable, having the courage and resilience to endure them ultimately has the power to transform, heal and open up our lives. Darkness and disturbance are vital to us, but we need to harness their power, rather than be overcome by it. With experience, knowledge, and the practice of self-compassion, their destructive energy can be turned into a positive life force.
Remember how strong you have been just to reach this point, right now. Living is not easy. But don’t forget that it will not always be so hard either. Be kind to yourself in times of darkness. There is no need to judge yourself for being who you are, or where you are. Your growth is not a linear journey or narrative; it may loop and spiral at times, points of fixture may become fluid, and the stable ground may begin to shake. When the foundations begin to settle – and they will – your feelings of suffering will ease and become melded into the strength that forms, and is latent within, the beauty of your own humanity.
This will give you hope. This will drive you forwards.
Don’t let the hard times fool you into believing things are worthless or futile. Embrace what you don’t know and embrace what you do know. Trust your instincts and don’t be afraid to be vulnerable. Follow where your curiosity leads you and seek experiences rather than answers. Remember that each one of us is flawed, fallible and ever-changing. We arch, bend and sometimes break. All good things take time, and you are, without doubt, a good thing. So take it slow and remember to pause, step back, inhale deeply and breathe out your stiffness into the air. I promise your lightness will come back, and you will be restored.