Today, I’d like to share a favorite poem that I heard many years ago when I was in the struggle of figuring out and accepting my diagnosis. It resonated with something deep within me and gave me courage and hope to keep working to overcome my challenges. I hope it gives you a boost as well. This is one of those great sources of hope I talk about in a previous post, that can help us when we are struggling with despair, and can give us courage to keep going.
The tree that never had to fight
For sun and sky and air and light,
But stood out in the open plain
And always got its share of rain,
Never became a forest king
But lived and died a scrubby thing.
The man who never had to toil
To gain and farm his patch of soil,
Who never had to win his share
Of sun and sky and light and air,
Never became a manly man
But lived and died as he began.
Good timber does not grow with ease,
The stronger wind, the stronger trees,
The further sky, the greater length,
The more the storm, the more the strength.
By sun and cold, by rain and snow,
In trees and men good timbers grow.
Where thickest lies the forest growth
We find the patriarchs of both.
And they hold counsel with the stars
Whose broken branches show the scars
Of many winds and much of strife.
This is the common law of life.
I have definitely had many moments of being “done”–done with my negative thoughts that I couldn’t seem to control, done with constant emotional pain, and done with having to carry the heavy weight of depression. I’ve been “done” with not being able to sleep at night, done with not being able to do things that I used to love, because they now cause me too much pain. The list goes on and on. Like many of you, I have been sick and tired of having to live with bipolar depression day after day after day. I am grateful, that I had reminders, like this poem to teach me what I already know, but can forget: Everybody has hard things and many–very many, have overcome and emerged stronger and better than they were when they started.
It’s so hard to see this when you are right in the middle of the proverbial biting winds and beating hail, or when relentless heat beats mercilessly, constantly upon you. Those are the moments, I found, that I really needed to hear that there was a purpose to all the pain. This poem is one of those reminders.
I can already look back to 17 years or so ago, when I started having symptoms of depression and see how much I have grown since then. It makes me realize how much having mental illness has taught me. I know I would not be who I am today without having lived through it.
Those are just my thoughts today.
What are you thinking about today? How do you find courage and hope to keep going when things are hard?