Find your silver lining…
Everyone goes through a “funk” or two (or an unlimited amount) in their life. They can be brought on by other people, relationships, jobs; they can be the product of loss, disappointment, hormones, even the weather. They can come about from our mind being our own worst enemy. These “funks,” as I would like to call them, can last for just a few hours, a few days, a few months, or years, but whatever kind of “funk” we’re talking about, everyone has had one (or too many to count). Personally, I think they’re part of what makes us human.
I’d be hard pressed to find anyone who would disagree that these funks that we fall into sometimes are zero fun, not even slightly entertaining and completely counterproductive, but I’d be even harder pressed to find someone who has come out of a funk having not been able to appreciate life outside of the funk more, because of the funk. Confused yet? Basically, how can we fully appreciate our life when it is good, going smoothly, happy, successful, if we don’t experience those times where life is a little bit tougher to handle? The answer: we can’t.
Now, I’m not going to go on a rambling tangent about the secret to living a happy, meaningful life because taking advice like that from a 22 year old is like taking iPhone advice from my 85 year old grandmother (the one who doesn’t own an iPhone). What I would like to do, is share an experience that I had just the other night that I’m hoping will be as nice a reminder for you as it was for me to put life into perspective. I was in what I guess you could call a little bit of a funk, facing a fairly major change in one of the more stable parts of my life, and I was in completely unchartered territory, so to speak, in a lot of ways. I was departing from a place that I was reluctant to leave, heading towards a situation of great uncertainty, both situations products of my attempts at coping with said funk.
I walked outside to my car and looked up at the sky to find the most beautiful spread of bright white stars across a clear, black sky. There were millions, billions of them; the air was warm so it was pleasant being out in the open air and the experience was overwhelming and extremely refreshing. I paused a moment, took a nice deep breath, and in that moment, in realizing that there is so much to be in awe of in this world and so many bigger and more powerful things out there than me and my tiny little issues in my tiny little life, nothing else mattered. Nothing. And while what I was going through seemed big, it was big, huge even, to me, because it turned my little world upside down, all I had to remember was that in the grand scheme of everything ever, my confusion, chaos, frustration, anxiety, and all the other bad stuff, was insignificant. These stars that so graciously allowed me to lose myself in their beauty for a moment, are thousands, millions, billions of years old, and some of them, most of them probably, already dead; their light still lingers on, so far away that it takes years for the light to reach my eyes. These same stars that I was seeing could have been viewed by people who have long been dead and gone for thousands of years. These same stars that we’re seeing today could have been visible to the earth long before humans walked the earth, even though they had been dead for years before that. There are stars that are just forming that we, our children, our children’s children, will never see in a lifetime.
You’re probably thinking “okay, what’s the point” and that this is a pretty complex way of trying to work myself out of a minor little funk, but I guess that’s just it. When you’re able to stop, think about, and become part of something much greater than yourself, it really puts the smallness of your being into perspective. In this instance, I realized just how tiny “little me” is in the grand scheme of this crazy, indescribably huge universe that we live in. This experience was a perfect reminder of how perfectly and complexly constructed we are as a species, and everything that comes with us. The emotions and mindfulness that make us the complicated humans that we are (the same emotions and mindfulness that usually cause these funks, ironically), are something to be embraced and appreciated. We so often forget that, even though our emotions can be our worst enemies, they are also what make us special. They are what make us humans. They are what make us feel. They are what make us sad, happy, angry, euphoric. And even though they are the funk-causing culprits, they are also what allow us to learn and grow. They help us to remember the good feelings and the bad feelings, so that we can avoid or perpetuate whatever causes them. They are what make us hurt, yes, but they are most importantly what also make us love.
In this instance, the invigorating refreshment that I gained from being stopped dead in my tracks, awestruck and speechless, to embrace the simplistic yet complex beauty and greatness of this clear night sky, was my silver lining. In this instance I was able to say to myself, “this too shall pass.” Better yet, in this instance, I didn’t even have the presence of mind to say “this too shall pass” because for that moment, I had forgotten what “this” was. For a split second, I almost felt selfish. Selfish that I had allowed myself to get so consumed by issues so insignificant in the scope of the big picture that they don’t even exist, that I failed to realize, right outside the man-made walls inside which I was sitting, the vast divinity awaiting me the entire time. All of a sudden, my “issues,” my anxiety, the uncertainty were gone. The beauty and power before me dissolved all of it; it no longer mattered. My silver lining was that some of these stars have been around for every funk that has ever happened, ever, and they’re still here, shining as brightly as ever. And someone (many people, most people) out there, from years past to those unborn, has had or will have an issue much greater, much more life-altering than mine, and they have or they will, go outside on some clear night and be able to say the exact same thing about the exact same stars. This was a great opportunity and reminder that there are so many worse things that I could be going through than this seemingly huge, but not really all that huge, funk.
Much like the funks that we experience throughout our lives, silver linings, too, come in all sorts of ways. Some are much more subtle, short-lived ways, and some take an overwhelming, perhaps life-changing experience to find. Some we might not realize until after they’ve come and gone, and some will come along and slap us right in the noggin from the get go. What’s important to remember is that you’ll never know your silver lining until you open yourself up to finding it. In the midst of all of the chaos and dysfunction of our daily lives, when it is so easy to lose yourself in whatever is bothering you, allow yourself the opportunity to take a deep breath, step outside yourself, and find your silver lining, because IT IS there somewhere. When you’re having a bad day, just take the time to tell yourself, “it could be worse.” Because, believe me, no matter how difficult a situation may be, no matter how much you may feel like you’re being tested, stay positive… if you’re breathing, it could always be worse.