You know when you are in something and you think it will never end. Like when you have a baby and you think they will never sleep, never stop crying, never wean, never toilet train, never sleep….and then you find yourself kissing them goodbye at the school gate and not long afterwards, kissing them as they graduate from primary school, then high school and then watch them leave as they head off into their own lives.
Or when you are in a really awful relationship but you just don’t know how to get out of it, how to end it, how to stop the destruction of two lives, or more….and then you get the strength (or they do) and you find yourself saying goodbye, walking out the door, heading off into your own life.
Or when you are deathly ill and you are shivering all over and can not get warm and your head is in the toilet and the world is spinning and you can not even sit up….and you think you may die here and never see anyone you love ever again. But before you know it you are back on your feet and life is good and the few days you were ill are just a distant memory.
Or when there is something happening in your life that is so painful you can not breathe…you feel like you are the only person this has ever happened to and you can see nothing but darkness. There is no light at the end of the tunnel. Maybe not even a tunnel, just black. You lie there like a rabbit in the headlights unable to move. You think this is the end……..and then something happens, something shifts. Someone or something makes a difference and you start to see there is more to life. You start to see cracks of light in the darkness. Possibilities. And before you know it you are able to let the pain go, even if not totally, enough to move on with your life and experience joy, allow it back into your life.
Or when you are in the middle of a day, a moment, a time where things are just not how you would want them to be. You feel out of sorts. Bored. Irritable. Lackluster. You wonder what it is all about. You lose motivation. Turn to alcohol, or drugs, or food, or shopping, or tv. And then you feel bad. And you start to wonder if you will ever be happy. And before you know it the day, the moment, the time is over. And it is time for sleep. For renewal. For dreams. And you get up to a new day and can see there is more. There is a new direction, a different way to think and feel. You become more mindful and stop thinking about what will make life better and realise you have a life and being happy,being grateful,being alive, is a choice.
Or for those people across our country at the moment who are in the middle of natural disaster and risk losing everything even their own lives…or those across the sea who live in war torn horror,or torture, or in places where clean water and medical care are not easy to come by as they are here….they must also have moments where they see the possible. Where they see there may be a change, a difference, a way out, time passing….this is how human beings survive such horrific events. When you are in such horror it may be impossible to see but history tells us that in fact the opposite can happen and it is times like these that the spirit of humanity comes to the fore. People stop worrying about how they look. What they can buy next. What they said or did in the meeting at work, or at school that was silly or taken the wrong way. What appointments they have next week or how the budget is looking. What colour to paint the bathroom. In these circumstances people see what really matters. People. And loving someone. And being loved. And the simple sameness that being a human being brings to us all. The connections between us and between our earth.
All things do pass. That is the nature of time. Some things do not go away however. Like diabetes, or epilepsy, or blindness, or cancer, or a lost limb, or dementia, or the pain of losing a loved one, or at least the missing of them and even sadly for some, war, conflict and poverty. These things will stay with us even though we wish them gone. Yet each day, each hour, each minute, does pass. Things change. Possibilities open up. Choices become available to us, even in the most dire of circumstances. We can carry these things with us, the things we don’t want and still move forwards. And even be happy.
Nelson Mandela, when in the midst of his terribly long and unjust imprisonment was given a choice for freedom – but in exchange for something that he could not give up. In February 1985 President P.W. Botha offered Mandela his freedom on condition that he ‘unconditionally rejected violence as a political weapon’. Coetsee and other ministers had advised Botha against this, saying that Mandela would never commit his organisation to giving up the armed struggle in exchange for personal freedom. Mandela indeed spurned the offer, releasing a statement via his daughter Zindzi saying “What freedom am I being offered while the organisation of the people remains banned? Only free men can negotiate. A prisoner cannot enter into contracts. In these most dire of circumstances he was still able to make a choice and to think not of himself, but of his people.
And that is something that I hope never passes. The humanity of us all.