I once read that plants instinctively turn towards sources of light. And I’ve come to believe we have the same tendency as people. I’ve certainly always felt drawn to light — from those first rays hitting the porch in the morning, calling me to come out with my coffee; to the last of the day as the sun retreats behind the ocean’s curtain.
There’s also another kind of light. It’s the glow of goodness; of purity. The light that resembles possibility and hope. You know, the light that Yoda and Luke muster as they defend the galaxy from Sith overlords.
While we’re not Jedis or angelic beings — especially when caught in traffic or experiencing caffeine withdrawals — there’s still a kind of “force” in us. Humanistic Psychologist Carl Rodgers called this the “universal tendency” which drives people to fulfill their potential and become self-actualised. In The Road Less Travelled (one of my favourite books) M.Scott Peck calls it “grace”. Peck says this mysterious force is both within us and in the world we live — often under the guise of serendipity and good luck.
Regardless if it’s a little voice within or a bumper sticker, we need to hear its call and follow the light however it presents itself. Hence the saying about “the light at the end of the tunnel.” I mean, that’s how we enter this world after all.
Jordan Peterson says we must “stumble towards the brightest star”. This means setting our sights on something that we deem of value and letting it guide us forward. This is what I’ve been doing. As far away as it feels, I envisioned myself in a completely new career as a counsellor and I’ve been heading in that direction — commencing a two year course.
He says “stumble” because no one goes skipping into a new life. It’s not going to be easy. Our star will get covered by clouds and we will loose sight of our goal. And like a candle, the light within — our passion and motivation — will flicker. This is when we must fan whatever embers we have. This is done through the smallest decisions we make (eg — get out of bed) and thoughts we have (eg — I’m not going to take that personally). I’ve also been working with visualisations in my mediation — seeing myself having succeded and using the emotions that arise as a gust to carry me through the day.
Darkness still has its place. As Winter is a season, too. This year I’ve been making friends with my lower moods. And becoming comfortable telling others about them. Being in the dark isn’t the same as being the darkness. And by taking the opportunity for introspection and self compassion, we can learn about ourselves and reevaluate our situations. Correcting course if needed.
“Eventually, I developed an image that helped me understand how depression can have a “befriending” intent — and how my failure to “listen to my life” had left me in a place of deep pain. Imagine that for many years a friend had been walking a block behind me, calling my name, trying to get my attention because he wanted to tell me some hard but healing truths about myself.” — PJ Palmer.
Although this blog’s headline is “a journey to the brighter side”, I’ve come to acknowledge that there is such as thing as toxic positivity. Too much optimism can be unhealthy — blinding even. I have a habit to overlook what’s right in front of me. Sometimes things, situations and people are — to put it simply — just shit.
Right now, I’m in a bit of a shit one. But after another 13 week trimester of study while working, while managing my medication, while intensely training and dieting, I might just need some time to slow down and rest. To go back to basics. To the things that work.
As I’m writing this I’m immediately feeling better. Writing is a staple in my wellbeing kit, and my blog and social platforms haven’t been getting enough attention. This is a good time to ask you what’s in your box.
Time outdoors in another must. The photo above is from one of the better days of this unforgiving Winter that’s almost thank-fucking-over. As I said, I love sunrises and sunsets. Sunrises energise me and encourage me to imagine what’s possible. Sunsets bring a sense of gratitude and contentment for what’s done. They remind me that while I’m living my life, it’s also setting… Slowly, but things could change suddenly…
I recently put together a get-well video for someone at work who was recovering from cancer. While I thought it was a kind gesture, I ticked it off like any other task. Then I found out a few weeks later he passed away. There was a news story recently about a woman crushed by a falling tree while jogging. Someone else was stabbed randomly by a deranged individual while going about their normal day…
On second thoughts, maybe I started this post a bit blinded. There’s some terrifying truths about life. We are small and insignificant living in a world that can be crueler than we can ever consider… Despite this, at the same time, we don’t let the bleakness break us. We continue to look for the good in the world and within ourselves. We continue to make this experience meaningful and worth it. As a society and individuals, we continue to step forward and strive for positive change. We don’t use turn towards it. To quote Charles Bukowski, we “rage against the dying of the light.”
Previously published on medium
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Photo credit: Boy Under the Bridge