Will you be free
if you listen
to the voice that lies?
You know when in the light or on your meds,
when in the day or with the ones you love
that the darkness is a siren’s song
that sounds like truth.
It hoods you,
it spins you,
it sucks you
further and further out to sea.
It is not you.
You are you,
the kid you can’t remember now
who is smiling back at you
from a picture so many years before
when life was light and play was fun.
Before they yelled at each other too much, at you too hard,
before he hit you,
before he touched you,
before the world felt scary,
before, without any trigger at all,
you realized that sometimes life can feel dreadfully lonely.
There you were.
She is still there.
He is still there.
There will be moments of freedom, again;
there will be moments of light.
You cannot see them now because you are in the dark present.
If you wait, if you hold on,
something so good
is bound to make its way
through that hood.
In the bright future.
Yesterday’s tweet from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences is unnerving to me. It is a picture of Aladdin hugging Genie with the caption, “Genie, you’re free” as a memorial to Robin Williams. Listening to the darkness that tells you death is better than life will not make you free. Well, I mean, I don’t know what it’ll make you exactly. None of us truly knows what comes after death, so I will leave you with your personal beliefs for that part.
But here are facts: if the darkness takes your life, you will miss things. Things that might make you happier than you’ve ever known – major life events like weddings, birthdays, vacations, and funerals (I’m Irish so sometimes these are fun), and less eventful moments like listening to your child tell you about life as you lie in bed together that might crack you open and give you a glimpse of a proverbial heaven. Have you held a grandchild yet? Changed someone’s life and given them the chance to thank you for it many years later?
Haven’t you seen and felt how crazy life is? It’s a roller coaster ride during a thunderstorm at times, and then there’ll be nothing momentous at all for a whole long stretch. Often times, no sense can be made of anything in the present moment.
But there are moments. You have had them, no matter how hard your life has been. You’ve had moments that are downright beautiful. Maybe you’ve only had a couple. Maybe you’ve been very lucky and had many. This is all life is – a stringing together of moments. If the moment you are in feels bad, if the voices in your head are telling you it will never get better, that bad is all there is, please ask that voice about that one time, about that one moment in time when you felt special, beautiful, loved, whole, filled.
When I was younger, I felt from a mental place a physical feeling of thirst. I felt thirsty when I travelled, when I felt unloved, lost, alone – so basically most of the time between the ages of 16-23. I thought then that that feeling, which was very real and foreboding, was just going to be a part of my life forever and that I would have to counteract it however I could for the rest of my life. Wouldn’t you know, things change.
Since having children, the only thirsty feeling I’ve felt is from a real, actual, physical thirst. That mentally thirsty feeling that I was absolutely positive would be around in my darkest moments for the rest of my life hasn’t made an appearance for many, many years. Maybe it will when my kids have grown. Maybe it won’t; maybe their love has filled that hole. Maybe whether it does or doesn’t come back isn’t the point. Maybe I’ve been able to string together a bunch of beautiful moments that I would have missed if I thought that that dark and thirsty feeling was going to be throughout all of my life and that I could be free of that feeling through death. If I listened to darkness, to my momentary thirst, I wouldn’t have gotten to the light, to feeling quenched.
For some, this is a constant battle. A daily battle over all of their years. If for one minute, you’ve taken yourself to the water (if water feels healing to you), and you’ve asked friends to join you, and you’ve laughed and splashed and played in the sand because that is what kids do near water and kids, generally, do not suffer from major depression (as a demographic group). If you have done that ever and you’ve felt a lightness, then you know that there is a lightness that can be found at some place at some time. If you have done anything ever that has made you feel light and free (and that hasn’t made you feel guilty and terrible after), you know that there is, or at least there was, a moment in time when you could find peace. A freedom that is here in this awfully difficult-at-times place called life.
You might find freedom here. It might only be a moment, but it may be the greatest moment you’ve ever had. You won’t know that moment at all if you make a permanent decision now.
I have seen people posting pictures with the hashtag #100happydays – I don’t think I’ve ever had 100 happy days in a row. So I’m just saying find moments, a singular moment, of it. If you can’t even find a moment of it because you are in the darkness, remember a moment of it, even if that moment was so, so long ago. If you don’t believe that that memory of a moment was real because the darkness is telling you that that moment was a lie, tell the darkness that it is being a know-it-all. That no thing knows everything. That because darkness is only dark it may not know that light exists. And the present, which is only right here and right now, cannot foretell the beauty of the future, the freedom you might gain from moments that you’ll miss if you leave now.