I’m posting this on Thanksgiving day but the truth is I’m not a big fan of our traditional Holidays and I try hard to have nothing to do with them. I’ve been hosting a Thankgiving Dinner for the last three years but I only do it as a special gift to a tribe of people I care so much about. I’m not really interested in keeping traditional Holidays in any way but I know many of us suffer at the Holidays because of baggage we carry from our past and wounds inflicted by our society. Our Holiday gatherings are an effort at healing those wounds and creating a new family and a new hope for each of us. They are a celebration of the new, not the old
But for some reason this Thanksgiving I’m going to break my tradition of ignoring the normal Traditions and tell you what I’m grateful for. Like nearly everything about me, it will not be totally normal, in fact it will probably be rather odd! I wanted to find a quote to use for this post so I found the one you see at the top of the post and it was the only one that moved me. As you may know, I love quotes and I’m always looking for a good one to help guide my life. When I saw this one I knew what I had to write about!
You see, I’ve never been a happy person, and what’s worse I never saw any reason to believe I would ever be happy. For most of my life, if I felt any gratitude it was only that things weren’t worse than they were and that I had the strength to endure the struggle and unhappiness of life. I was never seriously depressed, but I was chronically on the sad side. I made it through life as best I could and I think everyone who knew me would have said I was just a normal, average Joe. Inside, I was one of the Thoreau’s mass of men that led lives of quiet desperation.
There is little good to be accomplished by going into my long sad story, I think the majority of us have some wounds we carry with us. What’s odd about mine is I’ve never been able to identify why I should have been such a broken person; I had good parents and a good childhood (I am very thankful for my mother!). I’ve come to believe it was mainly an accident of genetics that I was born with a propensity for fear and unhappiness. You’ve probably heard of Type A or B personalities? Once I read about a Type D that was a personality that was always slightly depressed. No one else knew, but that person knew. I think I was born with a Type D personality
Now here’s where it gets strange; today, I am more grateful for the unhappiness of those “bad ole days” than I am for anything else in my life. Out of the darkness of those days I was finally willing to do anything to change my life and I began to search for a solution with my whole heart. Without the hurt to drive me, I would have just kept enduring my life and living in mediocrity and drudgery.Unfortunately, I think that describes the great majority of people, although certainly not all. They aren’t happy, but they aren’t miserable. They are caught in a gray area of simply being and surviving. Their lives aren’t bad enough to compel them to make a change, but not good enough to live a full, complete life.
I’m Most Grateful for my Pain!
The pain in my life is what finally forced me to make changes, no matter how extremely difficult they were.
- It forced me to reject the religion of my youth that failed me.
- It forced me to take a searching and fearless examination of myself to see how I had brought all the pain into my life. I created the pain, it was never inflicted on me.
- It forced me to admit for the first time that I was not able to live a good life on my own and I needed help and guidance.
- It forced me admit my faults, and turn to a Higher Power for help overcoming them.
- It forced me to continually depend on a Higher Power for strength and guidance.
- But the greatest gift my pain gave me was forcing me into vandwelling. The other things showed me how to live, vandwelling was a way of life that finally put it all together and broke the “civilized mind” that was part of destroying me.
With these above gifts, I’m able to handle anything life throws at me with grace that comes from somewhere outside of myself. When I did those things a literal miracle occurred in my life! My entire life changed from one of continual hopelessness, to a life of continual hope and often of joy. For the first time, I was happy, and confident that I could always be happy, if I would only do the necessary work .
What about you, have you had a “Dark Night of the Soul” where the torment of your life simply compelled you to do whatever it takes to find a way to make your life better? If you have, and you found a way out, your pain is the most valuable thing you will ever have in your entire life! It is the thing that you should forever be most grateful for.
Having heard from many of you, I know that you have not reached the depths of despair that I did, that your pain is not as great as mine. The good news is that it can still be your greatest gift. It will be harder than when the pain is greater because you will not yet have reached the end of your rope. But all pain is given as a gift to teach us that something is wrong and we need to make corrections NOW! Listen to the pain and embrace it!
Just like your body often gives you warning signs when something is wrong and a physical disease is growing, your soul gives you warning signs when something is wrong with it. And just like the best thing you can do for your physical health is to go to a doctor and get warning signs checked out as early as possible, when your soul is in continual “dis-ease”or discontent with itself, you need to treat that as a warning sign of an oncoming cancer or heart disease. It literally is a dis-ease of the heart, only it’s your souls’ heart and not your physical heart.
I believe that vandwelling can be part of the healing solution for many of us, because a deep connection with nature is the most powerful and soul healing force on this planet.
If you’ll listen, and make changes now, you can save yourself years, even decades of wasted life that you will only regret.