Laboring Days

“Choose wisely what you’re willing to die for…because it will end up being the reason you live.”

That line stood out amidst a sea of great lines in a book I’m currently reading. The story is one of a near death experience, during which the author was guided by two beings he interpreted as being angels. It’s a little out there. It’s also probably just what I need to be reading right now.

We’ve all gone through times in our lives during which everything seems to be falling apart. Like, literally every time you turn around another wheel comes off until all you have left is the stationary body of a vehicle that was once your life. It was once going someplace, but now it feels totally and completely stuck. And as the last wheel drops you just want to scream, “Really?? Now this? What else could go wrong??” (Note: of course you should never, ever actually ask that question because the Universe will answer.)

It’s pretty easy to get mired down in the moment-to-moment survival tasks: trying to catch the wheels as they roll away, attempting to secure them back onto your life, trying to get yourself moving again. But focusing solely on damage control is exhausting and demoralizing and it will suck whatever life you’ve got left right out of you, leaving you a listless shell who is of no use to yourself or anyone else.

When it feels like you don’t have the energy for one more thing, like your mind cannot possibly handle processing one more thing, it’s time then to step out of your mind and do a genuine gut check: what really matters? What are the things in your life for which you would die? And what can you do right now to nurture those things?

Our bodies do this naturally in times of crises. When we are threatened or injured, our body takes one of the things that matters most – our blood – and uses that the nourish the organs without which we cannot live – our heart and our brain. Everything else goes on the back burner until the crisis is over.

“When does it get easy?” the character in the book asks his angel guides.

When you accept each moment as the lesson of your life and learn your way through it.”

When we are stuck in those dark places, it is crucial to be mindful that they will not last forever. Certainly there are lessons to be learned, now and each day of our lives. And once we learn the lesson, the pathway through the struggle begins to make itself known.

I am not trying in any way to diminish the struggle or brush away the pain. Sometimes, the things we are losing are the very things for which we would die: a career, a loved one, a belief system. But just because that part of ourselves that was once so vital is fading away does not mean that we have to fade along with it. Take the necessary time to sit with the pain of that loss and find the lesson, only then will it start to become easier.

“We’re filled with new possibilities,” one guide insists. And I, for one, believe her.

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