By Peggie Arvidson
Six months ago pretty much everything I thought I knew about my life, my happiness and my future, started to fly apart at the seams. The only way I can explain how it felt is that it was like being in a vacuum vortex in a near constant state of vertigo.
My world felt like it was crumbling and I saw myself as the little Dutch boy of myth – trying to stop a deluge with a finger blocking a hole in a dam. A particularly apt description because water almost always represents emotions in any spiritual setting.
At the time I felt utterly alone and exhausted while also being supported by dozens of people and angels. The angels were the strangers I met, the miraculous coincidences that popped up and of course, the animals that I encountered every day.
Water was pouring from the sky – it was the wettest winter in memory in Tucson and on the day that I packed up to move back east the snow was falling in big, wet flakes.
Looking back, I know I was shell shocked. I couldn’t sleep, didn’t eat and found a very macabre sense of humor to get me through the worst. The people who surrounded me with love from near and far held me up when I didn’t know what to do next and kept me focused on forward momentum.
Because of that support system I could put one foot in front of the other, just like Indiana Jones when he took his leap of faith, in order to move toward an open-ended future. That’s the thing about the future of course. As much as I was sure what my next year and next decade would look like, from the house I would live in to the people I’d live with, none of it was real.
I had a wild fire of faith in my core that insisted that I would be okay no matter what happened next. I knew that although what I felt was very real and very sad and even scary, on another level, the feelings weren’t the real me. I saw first-hand how years of a spiritual practice sustained me in the midst of the mess.
Years of journaling and meditating were ingrained and kept me grounded as I worked through my role, karmically and materially that led me to the place I was. Going through the muck and the mess that lived inside me allowed me to recognize the parallels to what was happening outside. Each day I moved, incrementally, ahead.
Although I spent time wallowing, second-guessing and blaming (myself and others), I spent an equal or larger part of my time in the present. Packing. Writing. Talking. Planning a cross country move. Assuring myself and those who loved me that I was fine – or that at least I would be fine.
Coming through the worst of it I am not the same person who thought she had a handle on what life was going to be. I’m not the same person I would be had all this not happened in the middle of my life. I’m not better or worse today than I was or would be. I’m different. And I’m grateful.
Hashtag Gratitude gets lots of play on social media. Usually it’s someone’s quote on a fuzzily lit pink and purple and gold background – with copy that tells you how they made it through the storm and have created a one-size-fits-all program that can help you, too, make it through the storm in your life. That’s not the point for me here. I don’t have a program or a system or even an answer as to why this thing has happened to implode your life.
I’m not going to blow pixie dust in your face and tell you it’s all part of a magical, unicorn journey to get to wholeness and that if you simply breathe deeply and journal and be grateful (damnit) everything will be okay.
I’m also not going to tell you scoff at those things if they work for you.
You have habits and strengths and processes that exist within you that you only find when everything else is stripped away.
No one likes feeling bare and vulnerable. Everyone has had (or will have) a moment that brings them to their knees on a wet tile floor while they scream and cry in the shower, questioning God, questioning life and questioning their very being. A spiritual practice doesn’t make you immune to bad things happening but it can make it easier to bear.
I don’t know what you’re facing right now. But I will remind you of Winston Churchill’s quote, “When you find yourself going through hell, keep going.” Because life is simply a big leap of faith. Just like me and Indiana Jones, you can get to the other side of the abyss.