Hope in Despair
"Never take away a person's hope. It may be all they have left."
True story, when I was in junior high and high school I collected quotes almost religiously and recited them fervently to myself whenever the storms in my head got tumultuous.
When things got really dark and I didn't think I would make it the quotes that I recited formed a sort of golden thread. They gave off just enough light that I could cling to them until the storm passed.
One time in high school while on a mission to find more inspiring quotes I came across the one written at the top of this post. I don't remember who it was credited to (a search on google right now brought up a slightly more eloquent version credited to H. Jackson Brown Jr., but I don't remember the more eloquent version from high school).
Anyway, that quote caught my attention. I was very suicidal in high school, but I never could go through with my plans no matter how badly I wanted to. That quote gave me an inclination as to why. I couldn't give up completely because I still had hope. It made me aware that when you reached a point in your life where everything felt like it was crumbling away and you had nothing left to hold on to it was the smallest grain of hope that could be the dividing line between life and death.
When I was reciting quotes to myself in high school what I was actually doing was knitting myself a web of hope. It was thin and not at all tangible, but it was enough to keep me from giving up. This also made me aware that when life comes crashing down on you its the LITTLE things that really do matter.
I think it's easy sometimes to get caught up in the BIG things, but when you are truly at the end of your line, you would be surprised by how precious the smallest things become. A smile, a kind word, a beautiful sunset; it sounds overly sentimental, but there were times when those were the things that kept me alive. They gave me enough hope in the moments of darkness to keep breathing, just one more breath.
Sometimes the big things in your life collapse and you feel like you won't make it, but if you have just one little thing...
...I recently read a children's book called Crow and Weasel by Barry Lopez. It's a kind of legend/ myth story about two young anthropomorphic men who go on a journey North with the goal of going farther than anyone in their tribe had gone before and bringing back the wisdom that they learned to share with their people. On their way back there is a point where they nearly starve to death and in the last day when they have no strength left to even slaughter their horse for survival a stranger, Grizzly, comes and brings them food and blankets-- saving their lives. When they are feeling a little better they talk to Grizzly. Here is a lengthy quote from that part of the book:
"'You have saved our lives,' said Crow. 'Our gratitude is very deep.'
'I saw you from a distance. I could tell by your stillness you were starving,' said Grizzly Bear.
It was evening. The sun had gone under some clouds that were golden and white. Grizzly Bear raised his eyes to look at the sunset, and then he told a story. He was traveling in the country once, all alone, he said, and he was starving. It had been a long moon since he had eaten. He was so weak he was barely able to walk. One evening, very much like this one, he said, he was lying in a draw and he saw a flock of geese fly across the face of the sun.
'It was only for a moment,' said Grizzly Bear, 'but it was so beautiful it went straight into my heart. I got up and went on. In the last light that day I found what I was looking for. With my last strength I accepted the life of that animal. I ate and then I slept. I ate and slept again, and then I was able to go on.' " pg. 69
I don't know who I'm writing this for, but if you are reading this in a moment of despair, hold on. Hope is always with you, even if you can't see or understand yet how things will work out. One kind word of encouragement-- even from yourself-- can change your life and the lives of those around you. So hold on and let the storm pass, soon you'll be able to go on again.
One last quote to hold on to. It is probably my favorite of all quotes and the one that still pops into my head at frequent intervals:
"All the darkness in the world cannot extinguish the light of a single candle" St. Francis of Assisi
Hang in there and know that you aren't in this alone. No matter how deep the darkness gets, your light will always be brighter.