There’s a creeping bitterness that nips at my heels. I think I do a good job of keeping it at bay, but everyone knows the cliche of the bitter old person, and I can see how the gray get there. Not everyone can keep it at bay. They get disillusioned after being broken one too many times.

It’s hard to blame them for becoming cynical. There are only so many times you can die under your Dad’s car tire, grow up with a broken face, sink good years of your life into an abusive relationship, lose your father, your mother, your siblings, your children, your livelihood and legacy, and keep on trucking with clear eyes.

I guess it’s important to hit bottom at least once, for perspective, but the part that strikes me as really strange is that there’s nothing to do with all the heartbreak. It feels like there should be something, some outlet for it, and I think people get stuck—sometimes for their whole lives—trying to process their bad experiences, trying to find that outlet to get the hurt out of their bodies and spirits, trying to find the key that will make whatever happened acceptable so they can have permission to be happy again.

But there’s nothing there to find.

There’s no catharsis, there’s no movie ending where the bad guys get what’s coming, or the douchebag sees the errors of her ways. Life just rolls on, and you have to keep moving and just exist with whatever has happened, otherwise you stop living and growing, and burn out into one of those bitter, gray people.

Heaven & The Abyss

I was listening to that song that everyone loves “Say Hello 2 Heaven,” which is about a guy named Andrew Wood, who died of a heroin overdose after battling with depression. One of the lines struck me:

“He hurt so bad, like his soul breaking
But he never said nothing to me”

And that’s what got me thinking about all this. I’ve been broken a few times, and come back mostly better and stronger, but I wonder where the line is between that bitterness nipping at your heels but being at bay, versus being broken and just not telling anyone in the hope that if you fake it long enough, you’ll make it.

I think my conclusion is to throw out the question. That is a question framed by inevitable bitterness, and the question is about what degree you let it affect you. But I reject that premise.

I’m saying that the advice I’d give to my younger self, is that you need to remain unattached to outcomes, and just learn to exist in a state of unconditional, childlike wonder. Horrors and atrocities and soul breaking tragedy will undoubtedly hit, and all you can do in the face of that titanic sadness is shine as brightly as you know how, as a reflection to others that there’s love and hope in the world, but also as a reflection to yourself.

Don’t fake it—I’ve wept until I couldn’t breathe, until my soul ground to a halt, until I had no light to give. If you’re there, be there. The worst thing you can do is exist in limbo, between gut-wrenching sadness and the veneer of normalcy. That limbo is where people get lost—they stumble through a fog of distractions, with that sadness at their heels forever, until the day they die.

I say plumb the depths of that darkness, and stare it in the face. There’s no movie ending, no catharsis. Just you and that abyss, looking back at you. When you can look into it and stop fighting against it existing, then it loses its power over you. It exists, you exist. That’s all.

You exist. Let that childlike wonder take over.

Now you can shine again, from a place so deep inside that tragedy cannot strike, so bright that darkness cannot exist.