The unpredictable nature of life is what makes it so thrilling yet so terrifying at the same time. Lightning can and does strike twice, and you can only hope that it brings a stroke of luck rather than one of misfortune. Last month, a friend who lost her mother earlier in the year had to also witness her father passing away. The gravity of that trauma was and still is beyond comprehension. The darkness in the idea – or fear – of losing someone else in my life was paralysing.
I used to think that life owed me a few “good” years to make up for the bad years that have gone by, but I suppose life never promised to be fair. In fact, if we think about fairness, I’ve had it pretty good. Given the circumstances, things could have turned out a lot worse than they did. The most important thing was that despite everything that had happened, I was able to keep pushing ahead with my life and my aspirations. And in terms of future goals and careers, I can’t imagine myself being in a better position than I am now in choosing my next steps.
Last week, I had the privilege of receiving a significant award for service and leadership to the community. It feels strange receiving the recognition, when I know that so many others contribute a lot more to the wider community, but the award did give me the opportunity to reflect back on the last five years of my life and the people, moments and circumstances that have really shaped the person that I am now.
Perhaps the most significant lesson from the past five years was about resilience and perseverance. I know that life can be hard, exhausting, and often rather meaningless, but there will always be things that keep you going. For me, this was always the excitement of possibility – never knowing what tomorrow brings – and a thirst to understand more about the world; to experience the joy of discovering or experiencing something new.
I have also learned, the hard way, that the human body is fragile (so make sure you take care of it); and more fragile than the body is the human condition. I believe that everyone goes through some kind of struggle, whatever form that it may take, and so we should first and foremost be kind to ourselves but also kind to others. Always be generous with our smiles, our words, and our time.
Most importantly, I have come to realise that there is always light at the end of the tunnel. Some tunnels are longer than others, and sometimes our tunnels are made longer by misfortune or bad mistakes. Tunnels will vary in shape and size, but what is certain is that we will encounter many of them over a lifetime. Yet it is with these tunnels that we come to see what is most essential to our lives. It is through consistently putting one foot in front of the other that we come to understand what is meaningful. In other words, I have discovered that when it is truly dark enough, you can see the stars.