A couple months ago, I wrote an article about hitting rock bottom.
I wrote the piece in response to what was happening in my life at the time. As a way of coping with my illness, I had come to develop some very unhealthy patterns of mind, and eventually, this resulted in having a mental breakdown.
Everything that I had been repressing within myself had finally come to the surface after having a run-in with a friend with whom I had a very complicated relationship (much of which had to do with these underlying personal problems I just mentioned).
It wasn’t pretty.
Since then, much has changed. It has been a very restorative process to find my way back to a space of healing and honesty, and it has taught me a great deal about what it means to rebuild ourselves after having things go terribly wrong in our lives.
Suffering is the universal sign that what we are doing isn’t working. When we are feeling stressed, anxious, or out of sorts, it is really a signal from the cosmos that we are living in the wrong way, and that it is necessary to make changes. (Of course, this doesn’t speak to unnecessary suffering, like extreme poverty, war, trauma, and such.)
What we so often overlook is that it is actually good that this is happening. It is good when things go wrong, because then we are finally able to make the proper adjustments to orient ourselves toward living a happy and fulfilling life. As difficult as it was at the time to hit bottom, I knew that this created a tremendous opportunity for me to improve myself and get to where I needed to get to.
At the time, I knew that things could improve immensely for me, but wasn’t sure how it was going to happen or what it would look like. A few months later, after having driven across the country and having done a bit of soul searching, I finally feel that I am exactly where I need to be.
Human life is unimaginably complicated. Society is complicated, relationships are complicated, and (perhaps, most fundamentally) the human brain is vastly complicated, and our sense of self is extremely delicate—in that we are bound to make mistakes. It is so easy to become pathological that it is actually unsettling to me. The human mind is so susceptible to corruption that we are always at risk of having our heads being filled with bad ideas, and that is why we must move through our lives with the utmost care and attentiveness.
Life is hard, man. There are always reasons to become bitter and resentful at the sheer burden of being alive, and this often implores us descend into unhealthy patterns of mind in order to simply get through the day. What I have been understanding more and more through my experience with my illness, particularly in light of hitting bottom and all that has happened over the past few months, is that it is absolutely essential that we do not give into these tendencies. It is not just essential for our own well-being, but for the well-being of the world at large.
If we can simply make it through this life without becoming murderously corrupt, then honestly, we’re doing a pretty damn good job. The way I see it, we help the world by getting ourselves together—attending to our own consciousness first and foremost.
Every positive decision we make, every time we refuse to give into our own sorrows and continue to aspire for love and goodness, then we are directly affecting the state of the world. Anyone who says otherwise is stuck on the outside, I am sorry to say. Everything that we see happening in the world began within the human mind, and we might only fundamentally change the world by first fundamentally changing ourselves.
Now, after having my mental breakdown and doing the work to get myself back in order, I feel that everything I am doing is of the utmost importance and contains some degree of meaning. The positive momentum that has arisen out of my suffering is being put toward the good of all, starting with myself.
We will all come crashing down at some point or another. Life is suffering, this much is clear. What matters is how we respond when the human tragedy comes to rear its ugly head—how we come back to the light after staring into the abyss. This is what will define the human story: whether or not we can face suffering and find the strength to continue to love.
Author: Samuel Kronen
Image: Flickr/José Carlos Cortizo Pérez
Editor: Yoli Ramazzina
Copy Editor: Callie Rushton
Social Editor: Waylon Lewis