Coming Back From The Void

Even extreme grief may ultimately vent itself in violence; but more generally takes the form of apathy. – Joseph Conrad, “Heart of Darkness”

ImageNobody can ever say it’s easy to get out of the dark parts of human experience. There are no simple and instant ‘fixes’ for many of the most heart-wrenching and challenging moments in our lives. As the centuries go by, it would seem that the negative manifestations of the human mind and the bad aspects of the human heart become more powerful.
With all the advances in technology and media communications, we find out more than we used to about what’s happening elsewhere, even in distant countries. ‘Bad’ news also travels much faster. We’re living a time of extreme changes, which many times manifest themselves in a violent way. It can be so difficult to assimilate this information, and to then decide what to do with it, that many of us find ourselves depressed, or submerged in apathy. Sometimes it’s a temporary effect; but in other circumstances, it can become a permanent state – particularly when tragedy strikes our own lives.
We all know a person who seems to be not just in a ‘funk’ or ‘in a bad mood’ all the time: they are, for all practical purposes, ghosts. How does a person become a ghost? It’s a mechanism of defense. The bad piles up on the bad; the unsolved problems linger until they become unbearable burdens; anxiety and anger crush the spirit; and social conventions silence the expression of feelings and thoughts. It may not be suicide, but it sure feels a lot like it; people cease to live, and they just keep going through the motions, with little to contribute; not caring about anything or anyone.
While the most immediate reaction of strangers is to flee from those persons; the reaction of longtime friends or close relatives is often one of concern and worry.
What if we all acted like friends of those persons? What if we reached out and tried to establish contact, to show them that there is more in the world than negativity and suffering? There are so many simple and non-intrusive ways in which we can do this: meditation and prayer are the first options that come to mind. Send love and warmth to that person, hold them always in your thoughts, light a candle for them. If pertinent, you might also try to do something more ‘tangible’: start a conversation, bring them a book, etc. It’s not an overnight solution, and it may take years before we get a reaction; but even if we don’t, that love is never wasted – I can assure you that.
It’s easy to judge people who linger in apathy and indifference. Yet we must always remember that we don’t know what drove them there (even if it’s someone close to us – we don’t experience the world the same way as they do). Any human spirit can be broken – and since we’re all humans, we can empathize with the idea (even if we cannot fathom it ourselves) of existing with a broken soul. While some wounds never quite heal, with love we can help make the scars less painful and visible – and we can learn to love the lesson they teach us: value your life and your circumstance, for the moment is HERE and NOW.
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