No one ever said that life will be easy . . .
There comes a time when you work and you work so hard that you almost lose sight of your purpose. You run into yourself at the door. You burn the candle at both ends and you wonder if any of this will ever make sense. You wonder if any of your plans will come through. You wonder if this is all just a game. Maybe what people say is true. Maybe this is all just a rat race. Maybe what people say is true and this is all just a maze and at best, all you can do is try to avoid the dead-ends so you don’t have to backtrack so much.
They say you can’t see the forest for the trees. They’ll tell you it’s darkest before dawn. Years back, I used to attend a meeting in the basement of a church. There was an old white-haired man with a big, full white beard. He was a man that lived a long, hard life. He was a man that went through the mill. He had a story to say the least.
This was a man that endured. He lived through painful times. He was somehow saved from a lifestyle that nearly killed him and through some kind of divine intervention, he woke up on the other side. Or more so, in fairness and much less poetically, he woke up on the floor of a jail cell in the drunk tank. And somehow, he was able to straighten himself out.
Safe to say I did not like this man when we first met. I did not like him for a long time afterwards. He always had something positive to say. He was always smiling. Meanwhile, I’d look at him with contempt. I’d look at him, angry as ever, and I’d think to myself, “What the hell is he so goddamn happy about all the time?”
He used to tell me things like, “Keep coming back” or “Don’t quit before the miracle happens.”
He would smile at me and say, “Be good to yourself.”
Be good to myself?
What the hell does that mean?
Be good to myself?
Excuse the language here, but each time he would tell me any of the above, especially when he told me to be good to myself, I would think in my head, “Go fuck yourself,” so that I could smile back at him with a sense of satisfaction.
There was a night that I was alone with this old man. I was in a bad way. I was frustrated to say the least. I was angry. I was fed up. More aptly, I was looking to quit. I was anxious to grab a gun or anxious to get revenge. Only, my target was unclear. Perhaps I was mad at everyone. More accurately, perhaps I was only angry at me.
I never thought anything was fair. I never thought it was fair to feel the way I felt or look the way I did. Why couldn’t my life just be easier? Why couldn’t I be better at things or be someone else?
I was never much for religion. I was never born again nor have I ever regretted the decision to walk away from organized churches and the manmade politics that decipher who can or cannot corner the market on God. Yet, this man would tell me “God never gives us more than we can handle.”
And I would say, “Yeah, well maybe God shouldn’t have so much faith in me.”
“Maybe he can give my share to someone else!”
The man stayed behind to speak with me after our little 12-step meeting ended. I was helping him clean up and put the chairs back. I did this because there is a suggestion that talks about service and charity. The suggestion is a replacement of thought, which can be helpful when we feel stuck in ourselves. To be honest, the service and charity was not helpful on this day. In fact, I was there to call bullshit on this.
And there he was, this crazy old bastard. Happy as ever. He was smiling and putting the chairs away. The others had left and eventually, it was just the two of us.
He told me don’t quit before the miracle happens and that was it.
This time, I snapped back.
“You keep saying this but I’ve been waiting and waiting and when the fuck is this miracle supposed to happen?”
The smile went away from his face. A look of seriousness took over and in a sense of understanding he asked, “How long have you been coming here?”
Then he told me, “Because you if you ask me, the fact that you keep coming here is a miracle.”
He explained there was a time that I wouldn’t have stepped into a 12-step meeting for 90 seconds, let alone stay around for more than 90 days.
“If you ask me, you are the miracle.” he said to me.
The point is no one ever said anything will be easy. No one said everyone is going to play fairly. The point hereafter is no matter what, don’t you ever quit!
“Don’t you ever give up!”
Does it seem like there is someone or something against you?
Good. Let them waste their time. But don’t give up
If someone calls you a name or puts you down, why in the world would we ever offer them our freedom or become the monster someone else claims us to be?
Whether paved or unpaved, short or long, the road to success is meant to be endured. No matter what.
Tough day? Hard times? You’re hurting?
Your life’s falling apart? Your marriage is falling apart?
Lost your job? Feeling alone? Feeling depressed?
Feeling like, “Who the hell cares anyway?” and thinking about quitting?
There are times like this when I think about yanking the cords from the wall and throwing my computer in the garbage. There are times when I want to throw all my notes in the trash. There are times when I think to myself, “To hell with this!”
That old man in the basement of a church taught me something truly valuable. The fact that we remain and the fact that against all odds, we stand here, somehow facing adversity, somehow clinging to the last shred of hope, and somehow looking for that last glimmer of light before it douses into darkness; this is really incredible. This is a miracle.
The fact that we know we want better does not mean that we let ourselves down. This only means that we know we are capable and because of this, we are frustrated. And frustration is a bitch because frustration can make us blind. Additionally, depression comes along and pulls a trick to make us spiritually and educationally lazy. This has a way of hiding the prize. And rest assured the prize is out there. The prize is not going to come easily. Then again, if it did, perhaps we wouldn’t know the value of the prize.
I climbed a small mountain near my home. The elevation was somewhere above 1,000’. The hill was steep to say the least. I was tired. I wanted to go down and go back and go home so I could eat something unhealthy. I was overweight. I was tired. But I kept pushing myself. As hard as this was, I kept pushing myself. And finally, I came to a scenic overlook. I walked out onto a cliff and saw how high I climbed.
In an instant, all of the soreness and all of the frustration and the personal pain just went away. This is what it feels like to “Not quit” before the miracle happens.
The secret is endurance. Find this. Find a way to take the pain and switch this into fuel. Find a way to keep going, by any means, and like the old white haired man said to me, “Don’t you quit.”
“Don’t you ever quit!”
People say, “One day this will all make sense.”
I don’t know if this is true.
But I do know that had I quit, I would have never seen any of this.
And plus, I would have never met you.
Know what I mean?