There is something fundamentally rewarding about survival through adaptation I have found. It’s a sense of worth, because many obstacles and trials were not enough to destroy the foundation and raze all that was built prior. Ruin should not be the mechanism of redemption because we do not reside in a world of unquestioned absolutes and flaming rubble. Instead, progress is quantitative; a multitude of accomplishments (theoretically) having been laid down instead, sloping upward towards a measured goal among many. This is not always easy to see, but truly can’t be destroyed without full and unquestioning self-participatory assistance.
There should be a caveat, because it’s not as simple as one small but purposeful paragraph (needless to say) to enact life-altering change. Pain is the key to recognition. Sounds unpleasant, largely, because it is (and should be). This may not be true of everyone, but hurt, regret, sorrow and suffering are an essential part of our human understanding of reality. Though we typically don’t live life at the extremes of emotional polarity, they exist as reference for when things start to stray from center. The drift of the perceived norm is the real piece to highlight, because there comes the setup for a moment when a threshold for tolerance is reached and crossed. At some interval which is different for everyone, a realization of position of the emotional pendulum is recognized. It is in this quandary of action that things become critical.
All humans are fundamentally different in countless ways, one of them being the cognitive tolerance for despair. Commonly thought of as an undesirable state, the supplicant of sorrow has a point in which the intensity and relentlessness of the state is unbearable, and in such stark contrast to the opposite end of the spectrum of feeling that dramatic action seems more tangible and needed. At this pivotal juncture, a choice can be made to continue in the current condition, or change somehow.
Again, not just as simple as a choice you make in your head and then boom, done. This revelation often comes at cost, and not always a productive result. For many (myself included) the first avenue consist largely of escape by one means or another (drugs, games, delusions, cognitive distortions), then suicide when there is no where else to go. In my own circumstance, I found that mental and physical isolation led to the trouble, a fundamental lack of constructive dialogue, as well as issues with being misunderstood and under-engaged. Plus, there are almost certainly lots of other contributors which vary per individual circumstance.
Given that death isn’t a solution to anything, and having failed at it personally, the lesson learned helps to dictate what information can be learned to push the load further uphill. Now, this moment of having been defeated in the attempt of self destruction or mutilation should serve as a marked transition point in which a new direction needs to be calculated. Or, should be. But why?
This is the most difficult part of the argument, because it relies on a person’s ability to compare alternating states of awareness in a crisis. I have never been very good at this, but the last time I hit rock bottom, it clicked. I could either stay this way, miserable, coasting just above the desire to exit existence entirely, or, to remember that feeling proud, or even positive, would be like fresh water to parched desert lips. The metaphor helps the imagination, which was a doorway, for me, towards realization and then action.
I, ultimately, wanted to feel good. I’d rather have many more days of trying for and achieving happiness than to check out of the world. The thread that kept me stitched together was hope. In and of itself, hope is too ambiguous to be useful. However, when tied to the looming mystery of the future, the window of possibility opens.
We don’t know, with any true certainty, what tomorrow will bring (unless you happen to be Madam Cleo). The fascination and promise is just as balanced between negative and positive as one would expect for normalcy in most cases. I personally hang on to that thread because I know that if I tug on it, I can take advance in a new direction. It is a hope that I am not eternally defined by the shortcomings and atrocities of my past, but rather, incentivized by fortune to make something better of the legacy thus far wrought. The ammunition to fend off advancing doubt is pride, and the individual actions that increase the evidence for having that radiant, internal confidence.
That may not appeal to someone grounded in surrender, but even the most well-established doubter can see the potential benefit of comparative reality assessments. See a future not yet realized, and head down the road towards it, I would say. It seems like a pretty fundamental adjustment to make if success is sought. I don’t pretend to be any more of an expert than my lived experience allows as I write this. I have seen, and will see, the very struggle I detail here if not within myself regularly, but in the world around me. I hope you can also see that this evidentiary argument has a real grounding in logic and constructive incrementalism. One step forward, two back, two forward, one back… and so on.
Join us. We are going into the future with the pendulum back where it belongs.