You’ve probably head the saying, “It’s always darkest before the dawn.” Of course it’s literally true: before the light comes up, it’s the moment at which it’s been dark the longest.
It is true in any other sense? When things look their bleakest, is that an indication that something better is right around the corner? I think yes, and here’s why.
The despair event is an incredibly powerful part of anyone’s life. I’ve survived many of them. It’s that moment when you absolutely lose hope because there’s no way you’re ever getting out of danger, trouble, the dark.
The moment seems utterly convincing. You feel cut off from every source of hope or rescue. You’ve been in the dark so long that you can’t remember or conceive how to get out.
Many people have succumbed to this moment. They have done something rash, taken their own life, taken other lives. If I could do anything for those people I’d tell them this:
There’s no way you could have reached that darkest place without having traveled a huge distance to get to it. The road to despair was not a short one. It came after many trials and failures.
One of the reasons you’ve reached the despair moment is that you’ve actually done everything you can do. You’ve exhausted your resources and your options. There’s nothing left for you to try, and so you are powerless to fend it off.
But all the work you’ve done, the things you’ve set in motion, the energy you’ve expended, is still out there. It’s enough to carry you just a little bit farther forward. It takes you, without your having to do anything more, to another place where you can see at least one option, a light to move towards, a hand to grab.
People who fail, who quit, without having reached the place of despair, will not succeed in this way. Theirs is the despair of being afraid to try, or of being kept back by some element that is out of their control, and it holds them back from expending their full effort. It’s important not to confuse the two.
In the moment of despair it’s important to do one thing. Don’t give up. Be still if you have to, but wait.
It would be insensitive of me to claim that every despair moment results in a triumph, or even a way out. Many people live lives of despair, or are in situations that are so far removed from their control that they will never have the world they deserve. I hope my little essay won’t be misconstrued as blaming them for not sticking it out.
I’m simply suggesting that for those that have been striving, that have exhausted every possibility, it is a reasonable choice not to give up. While accepting the feeling of despair, recognizing its power and its unanswerable grief, one should consider that one has earned the right to be in that place. And if one has earned the right, then the feeling of despair is not equivalent to defeat.
We are doing the final mixing on Decades, the long awaited album by my band, the Front Porch Session Players. Please stay tuned to get a listen to this two-year, fifteen man project!
Adam Cole is an author, educator and performer who blogs weekly on the subject of listening, creativity and artistry. He is the director of Innovative Approaches to Music, a comprehensive look at the benefits of music learning. To take a quiz on what kind of music warrior you are, please visit www.mymusicfriend.net