I was in the grocery store two weeks before Christmas and for various reasons, I was feeling stressed out, lonely and depressed. It was a miserably rainy, cold afternoon. I was soaked and chilly. The lights in the store were horribly bright fluorescent, the floor was slippery, the tacky displays of holiday ‘cheer’ were ugly and garish. And the in-store Christmas music was loud and incredibly irritating.
I noticed that most of the other shoppers also looked soaked, chilly, irritated and stressed. I began thinking about what a difficult month December is for more people than not. How we’ve created an expectation that we’re all supposed to feel happy and merry when really, it’s darker, colder, lonelier and more stressful than any other month.
Just as I was thinking that, the irritating loud Christmas music began playing ‘It’s The Most Wonderful Time of the Year.’ An extra sappy, extra cheesy version. The voices singing sounded so falsely happy and almost creepily insistent. I stopped in the middle of the aisle, raised my hand in the air and saluted the speakers with my middle finger.
The other shoppers in my aisle started to laugh. One of them did the same salute towards the speakers with the same finger and said “Hey Most Wonderful Time of the Year… Fuck you!” There were about ten of us in that aisle, all laughing and smiling at each other with shared empathy.
Two days later, I found out that a dear friend was in the hospital because they had very nearly succeeded in committing suicide. Because they were depressed and lonely and stressed out, and because it was December.
I went to see my friend right away. Looking at him in his hospital bed, the first thing I said was “I completely understand.” The second thing I said, was “I can give you two reasons not to do this ever again.” He asked what they were? I said “Love and hope.”
He started to cry and said “But I don’t feel much love and I don’t have much hope.” And I told him this…
Love and hope. Those two things are always there, even when you can’t see or believe in them. You love people and are loved by them. That’s an exceptional motivation to remain in your life.
And so is hope, which exists outside of our own consciousness and is what keeps the world in motion. Hope is so pervasive and so above and beyond us, we have it even when we don’t know it’s there.
We have love and hope even when we can’t feel them for ourselves, because everyone in our life is feeling love and hope FOR us. All the time.
I think sometimes that some of us aren’t here to have easy or particularly happy lives. I think some of us are here to help other people feel more love, more appreciation and more compassion. That makes us essential and it means our difficult lives are actually a powerful, vital force for good.
When you think about all of the best and most amazing things that have ever been accomplished or created in the history of the world, what two things were the cause of most of them? You got it. Love and hope. Over seemingly impossible odds, when despair is winning and all reason tells us to give up… Miraculous things can and do happen when we just hold on to those two things and keep living and keep trying.
There is so much love and hope put into the universe for you. It may be intangible, but it’s huge and very real. People feel it for you every moment of every day, as they know you feel it for them. Your family feels it for you. Your friends feel it for you.
Even if you don’t or can’t feel it for yourself, you are constantly surrounded by immense quantities of love and hope. We all are.
December is the darkest, coldest, most difficult month of the year. Give it the finger and know that love and hope shine brightest and warmest in the cold and the dark.