“Someone I loved once gave me a box full of darkness. It took me years to understand that this too, was a gift.” – Mary Oliver
Have you ever had one of those moments where it feels like the world is crumbling down all around you? And you want so badly to take control and make things better, but it just seems impossible? You know that something good must come out of it, but in this moment, the only thing you’re certain of is that it sucks.
I remember sitting at dinner a year ago with my new team, and our manager asked, “What is your biggest regret?” I was waiting to respond and scanning my head for all the bad stuff that had happened to me that past year. I’ve had an amazing life and feel very fortunate, but I’ve definitely made some questionable decisions that have led to real pain, for those I love and for myself. But even sitting there and recalling all these difficult memories, I couldn’t come up with something to call a regret. I began to piece together how these past events led to something good, even great, albeit sometimes years down the road. It led me to fiercely cling to the idea that every time a door closes, there’s always an open window. We may just get in our own way while searching to find it.
Dark times are hard. They are scary, confusing, and unclear. We would never choose to remain in darkness because we know light. But to that end, we also know the beauty and wonder of light as it relates to darkness. So when we finally emerge from the depths of our struggles, those brief moments of clarity are that much sweeter. And then we dig a little deeper and realize that while we were feeling our way through the darkness, we were also gaining courage, strength,and resilience. We were choosing to move forward even though we couldn’t see the next step. We were living life to the best of our ability, even as we were repeatedly knocked down. We were choosing life instead of wishing it chose us. The difference between staying in the dark and emerging into the light is just that, choice.
Try easy, not hard.
I keep saying this to my yoga students, normally when they’ve been holding warrior 2 for several breaths, and their legs are trembling and sweat is dripping down their face. Some of them get upset and retort, “But it’s not easy!!” And that’s the point. Life isn’t easy. But it is possible to find ease. Soften your gaze, find a point of focus, and breathe. We will always move on to the next pose.
Last night, Andy was telling me how happy he is, how much we have grown and how our relationship has evolved. I told him we had to go through some really hard times to get here. And his response made me pause: “We didn’t go through hard times. We just chose to stick with each other through thick and thin and continued living our lives. Those ‘tough times’ were just blips on the radar of the last 11 years. They were just a natural part of life.” And looking back, I know realize – they were gifts.