It is no secret: we are living in dark times. It seems like every time there is light at the end of the tunnel, a dark shadow is cast to make the sunshine look more like a small flickering candle. The darkness of that shadowy tunnel seems to surround and embrace us until the small flickering light becomes nothing more than an irrelevant annoyance. I use this symbolism because for many of us, the darkness in the world parallels the hardships (physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual) in our own lives. The flickering light (hope/anticipation that it is going to get better) is more annoying than helpful. It just seems so much easier to give up. Right?
Yesterday morning as I was meditating (as I do every morning), I received a quote from inspiringquotes.com:
“In a dark time, the eye begins to see.”Theodore Roethke
I found that quote to be a bit oxymoronic. Darkness is the absence of light. Scientifically speaking, without illumination human vision is unable to distinguish anything. So what is Mr. Roethke talking about?!
I was intrigued, so I did a little research. That quote is actually the first line in the poem “In a Dark Time” by Theodore Roethke. Click here to read the full poem if you are interested. If you do not know who Theodore Roethke is, he is an award-winning American poet who “helped to produce a remarkable body of work that would influence future generations of American poets to pursue the mysteries of one’s inner self.” When he was only 14, his uncle committed suicide and his dad died of cancer. This had a significant impact on his life and influenced his work. (That brief bio does not do his life’s work justice! Read more here.)
I gave that quick background to highlight that his quote has credence, but that still left me wondering, “how does the eye begin to see in darkness?” That question led me to my own philosophy, we can create our own light in times of darkness. How? Allow me to introduce an easy to remember acronym: L.I.G.H.T.
Light at the end of the tunnel.
The first thing I will challenge you to do is shift your perspective of the “light at the end of the tunnel.” It is easy to view the light as simply an escape or exit from dark times. We exclaim, “if I can only make it to that light, I will be out of here!” The issue with that simplistic view is it does not allow room for “life.” Some days we feel like we make significant progress, but most days we trip, stumble, and sometimes fall as we focus on the exit and not the things around us. That makes the light seem like a distant dream or “hope deferred” as the great Maya Angelou called it.
Take another look. Don’t just view the light as a means to the end; instead, view the light as a tool that reveals the things around you. At times, that light may seem distant, but in times of darkness, even the smallest light will expose the stumbling blocks that lurk in the shadow. When you view the light as a resource, you begin to learn and grow from the dark environment. You begin to recognize and quickly step over stumbling blocks in your path that you previously would have missed! So yes, the light is the means to the end but it is also the tool that illuminates your path.
What inspires you? What is your “why?” We get tired sometimes as we traverse through the dark tunnel. We ask ourselves, “what’s the point?” That’s when our inspiration kicks in! It pushes us to limits we did not know we had. It drives us along our illuminated path.
So how do you find what inspires you?
- Surround yourself with positive people who are headed in the same direction.
- Think about the issues you are passionate about changing.
- Find people you can help lead through dark times.
Our inspiration is usually centered around the value we bring to others. We all have a calling or purpose that is bigger than just us. Allow that calling or purpose to be your inspiration.
My good friend and popular Artist, Aha Gazelle, said it best, “the hardest thing about growing is you can’t feel the movement.” (Song: Invitation by Aha Gazelle) That is such a profound message and fundamental truth. I remember how it felt when I started playing basketball as a young child. I knew you didn’t have to be tall to play basketball, but it was a huge help! So everyday I would stand against the wall and record my height with a pencil. It was very discouraging because I could not see or feel the growth. Eventually, I started to measure my height out of habit instead of anticipation. It wasn’t until I looked back after a few months and noticed my pencil mark moved a little higher. I was thrilled! “I grew overnight!” I thought.
That’s a fairly humourous comparison, but we do this as adults. No matter how far we have actually progressed, we feel like we have not made significant progress. Stop doing that to yourself! Every step forward is progress you should be proud of! Even when you do not feel or see the growth, it is happening. Celebrate your growth!
If you read “In a Dark Time” in its entirety, you noticed Theodore Roethke was making the same point I am making right now, hardships exist to make us better. That hurts to even think about. We have spent so many years looking at darkness and hardships as a negative when in reality, they are necessary for our growth. As I shared before, I will compare hardships to the weights in the gym. The gym is full of things that can either crush you or make you stronger. It all depends on your perspective. Just like hardships, gym equipment is designed to create micro tears in your muscles. Sounds scary and counterintuitive right? Maybe. Until we realize that our body heals those micro tears to make our muscles stronger and more resilient than they were before!
So shift your perspective! Those hardships may cause pain or “micro tears,” but you will become stronger because of it! I know it is hard to fathom, and it may seem impossible that you will become stronger as a result of the hardship(s) you are experiencing right now. But like Nelson Mandela once said, “it always seems impossible until it’s done.”
Why is it important to see, learn, grow, and develop while in darkness? Because it takes time to make it through. I have always been a fan of taking action and making the most out of every second we have here on Earth. As I said before, time is one of our most precious nonrenewable resources, so don’t waste it. Embrace where you are, and invest time learning more about yourself and growing those around you!
If you need a little help learning and/or teaching others how to make it through dark times, download my FREE #defeattheshadow Journal at https://parent-child-connect.com/free-resources/ today!
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