(Image credit: JestePhotography/deviantart)
By all measure, and regardless of whom you may speak to, 2016 has been a trying and borderline unbearable year. For some people, it’s been a year where all of the progress that’s been achieved (for a variety of things) has gone to shit, and there is genuine, seemingly palpable fear for the future. Not just for citizens in these United States, but all over the world.
But something extraordinary can occur when things appear their bleakest, and all it takes is a little bit of effort to realize what your existence is trying to tell you: there is always hope and a way through the darkness. “If you’re going through hell, keep going,” is one of my personal favorite quotes (and something that’s been falsely attributed to Winston Churchill for some time now, but that doesn’t really matter). It’s such a wonderful expression because the realization hits that not everything terrible lasts, because like anything good or bad, it losses energy in the process; negativity in whatever fashion it is presented is an exercise in diminishing returns. And that’s a good thing, because if that wasn’t the case, life would be very different. But whether speaking of hurricanes, the stock market or more philosophical issues, like dealing with a year that’s been filled with negativity, when the realization hits that it too ‘shall pass’, it’s almost as if a veil of fog lifts away from our person. And the key to maintaining that positive nature, is really the concept of resiliency. Some people have a difficult time understanding, but others can latch onto it pretty quickly, if there is a realization and acceptance of two things: 1. Your surroundings in the Universe you inhabit can teach you things you weren’t aware of, and 2. You have to be willing to see/listen/feel WHAT the Universe is trying to tell you. Now comes the good part: I have a personal example that I want to share with you, and after you’re done reading this, you’ll perhaps have a little bit of hope for the future.
2016 has been a trying year for me, filled with happiness but mostly angst, that’s manifested itself in a variety of different ways. Splitting with a significant other, frustrations with a new job/even questioning whether or not it’s the right career, family problems, coping with loss of loved ones and friends and a general malaise that has (apparently) been felt by a lot of people, the world over. But somehow, I’m still here, and I’ll be good. And this is something that I realized very recently, because even though I know my own value, it’s hard at times for others around you to see that, and such a disconnect can be incredibly frustrating.
During a very recent winter hike with a close friend, we noticed some paw prints in the snow, while walking through a remote but semi-popular forest trail. In speaking with my friend about job pressures, past issues with romance (or lack thereof), past dependency issues, and general confusion but overall hope for the future, I realized something about myself: that regardless of anything and everything that I’ve personally been through, I’m still here, and that’s due in large part due to an ability to be resilient, even under the most difficult odds. Realizing that is one thing, but having a sign at the most serendipitous is another wonderful thing altogether. Because as we were walking, I casually mentioned to my friend that I wish I could have some sort of sign that my desires, dreams and hopes for the future could somehow validated by the Universe at large.
As we looked down on the trail, about 100 yards from the parking lot, we kept puzzling over the large paw prints. “No, those aren’t coyote prints, I highly doubt there are coyotes around here,” my friend rationalized to me. As soon as they completed their sentence, a large coyote came onto the trail from out of the woods, about halfway between the two of us and the parking lot, at a crest in the path. My friend and I looked at each other stunned, and started laughing. And then we couldn’t stop laughing once we realized what the coyote was doing: it was peeing right in the middle of the trail. Through the laughter, there was also the (more than) slightly irrational fear that it was hungry, forgetting briefly that we were two large adults against a relatively scrawny coyote. As I tried (hilariously) to scare it away by flailing by arms and howling at it, the coyote just started at my stupidity, and then proceeded to brush away or cover it’s urine with it’s hind legs, and left back into the woods, as quietly as it had arrived.
When my friend and I got closer to the marking, we marveled (and laughed some more) and how serendipitous the moment was, and maybe, just maybe, the Universe was actually trying to tell me something. Was this my spirit animal trying to convince me of something? I took it as a ‘yes’, because I realized that my personal history was the same as that coyote’s, and anchored in the same basic concept: resiliency. Perhaps the animal wasn’t the space coyote of my dreams, but it nevertheless solidified a core idea in my head: that if you listen hard enough, you could hear how the world around you is there to guide, inspire and help you deal with issues that you need clarity on. Personal judgement can be easily clouded by the constant din of everyday life around you, and having that inner calm is sometimes all that is needed to help propel oneself forward.
After parting with my friend, I got back into my car, and looked at my phone before preparing to drive off. Among the holiday greeting texts from family and friends, there was one that most piqued my interest. It was a holiday greeting from my ex. Very annoying and more than a little strange considering we hadn’t spoken in almost an entire year. But with my newfound feeling of liberation, I looked at it one more time, then deleted it. I had come across feelings of self-worth and resolution that I hadn’t felt in years. And that was all of the added confirmation that I required to feel that my life had turned a page…and that I was ready for whatever came next.
And that’s what I leave all of you with at the end of 2016: a resolution to know your individual worth, and also know that there is so much potential that is internalized but never tapped. But it’s there, and ready to be used. Sometimes, it just takes meeting your spirit animal to release it.
Here’s to a very happy, healthy and beyond prosperous 2017!