Be grateful for your darkest nights, for you are on the way to find who you really are
– Monce C. Abraham
We’ve all been there : That point in time where all seems lost, nothing seems right and the world seems to come crashing down all around you.
Whilst being pushed by pain to the darker side of despair is natural, as long as one is internally convinced that one has not done anything ethically or morally wrong, if one were to get aware and focus on the bigger picture (whatever ‘big picture’ means for you, and yes, this practice may take time, and that’s ok), what might look like despair is also an opportunity to look beyond the immediate pain/ scenario, and choose to go deeper inside, identifying what’s important (for you, and other stakeholders) and ‘focusing’ and more importantly, ‘taking’ the next step forward, whatever that might look like.
Know that you will be faced with the possibility to either submit to the situation (not a bad thing under some exceptions : sometimes we have no other way to go, and that’s ok), or have a part of your character revealed to you, which chooses not to do so.
Sharing personally, I remember the instance when I was taking up my first Ultra Marathon (50 Kms) within my first year of attempting long distance running. Hardly mid-way, 25 Km in, I acquired a muscle pull in my right leg. Now this was a time when I was again representing an organization and running the Ultra Marathon as a Child Rights Champion (I was additionally carrying a Flag the entire 50 Kms to ensure representation plus so that the event pictures could be used by the Organization). Faced with the decision to either call it quits and fly back home to New Delhi, India or stay in the game; I decided otherwise and covered the rest 25 Kms hopping the course, going through the jogging motion a bit too, to mimic normal running and engage the muscles so as to lessen the pain. I eventually took 7 hrs 22 min 44 secs to finish my first Ultra Marathon, having spent 4.5+ additional hours on just the second 25 Kms lap.
In my second year of long distance running, I attempted a 100 Km Ultra marathon and given my lack of preparation at that level (I had trained as per a 24 Hour cut-off plan, whilst the cut-off time was actually 18 Hours : a gap of 6 whole hours), I had to choose to quit at the 75 Km mark, and settle for a 75 Km Finisher medal. I was not particularly proud of how I had gone about preparing for this attempt and the lack of basic homework, but enough time was spent reflecting and important life lessons were learnt the hard way.
Having said this, both times, I came to learn about incredible parts of self, which I would have never come in touch with, had I not undergone the experience of radically attempting to go beyond my then perceived limits.
* As of today, as I recuperate from a Slip Disc acquired in 2018 (way too much physical activity, way too little rest, in a period as less as 3 months), it has somewhat currently limited my ability to question whether I would be able to take up any meaningful physical challenges such as Ultra Marathons, summitting Mountains, Iron Man, Ultra Man Challenges etc in the years ahead.
If there is anyone who has done so, or have examples on that front (without risking mobility and serious injury), you are welcome to reach out to me across my Social Media channels. If not, I will simply route all this internal energy to other meaningful channels.
Character is built, but by summiting one mountain at a time.
It is for these very reasons, that we must but be grateful for the challenges that come our way, for how we respond and meet these challenges head on, keeps taking us closer to who we are meant to be, whilst laying to rest other aspects of us (worrying, anxiety, lack of self-worth etc) which don’t serve anyone in the long term. As Haruki Murakami would concur, “Pain is inevitable: suffering is optional”.
So don’t despair, and don’t be sad (for at least too long, perhaps?) the next time ‘tragedy’ befalls. After all, we’ve all been there : That point in time where all seems lost, nothing seems right and the world seems to come crashing down all around you…
How else are you ever going to find out what magnificence you hold inside you?