Sometimes it is hard for me to comprehend how much my perspective has changed since I left high school. Today I have plenty of money, a wonderful wife and family, and I feel like I have infinite resources to help me do and be whatever I want. However, there was a time in my life when I had little to lose except my own life. Worse, probably much worse, I had very little to look forward to. I had gone from being kicked out of the Navy to living in a storage unit, to couch surfing with no money, no job, no car, and no real friends. Life wasn’t working out for me. In fact, not too long ago my own father confessed to me he did not think I would survive this period of my life.
I don’t remember being hopeful, but I do think an inner knowing kept me going. Today I am much more familiar with that inner knowing, although, I am sure I still grossly underestimate it. After you have had more success than you could imagine, it becomes a challenge to continue to hope for still more. LOL, as I write this it occurs to me that perhaps I still have a problem with hope.
I understand now that my life did not have to be this way. I could completely change my world and I have done so more than once since then. I have learned the world is full of helpful tools, forces, and books, and people just waiting for me to ask. “When the student is ready the teacher will appear.” is a reality for me, not a metaphor.
Now, when I am struggling with something such as a personal issue like addiction or back trouble, or a business issue like losing a critical employee or not being able to able to pay the bills, I try to remember two things:
- Buddha’s teaching about impermanence.
- Jesus’s teaching “Ask and you shall receive.
Impermanence just means whatever is going on, no matter how terrible, is temporary and will not continue forever. Yeah, it might continue for a long time, but it won’t continue forever and I have learned it will not go on for longer than I can handle.
For me “Ask and you shall receive.” is about free will and faith. If I shut down, close myself off and deny the possibility of help or refuse to give permission or ask for help…well then I just don’t get any. On the contrary, the more I surrender, open up, seek or ask, the more I realize the world has all the help I need.
For me this can be easily summarized as HOPE. If I can just have a little hope, whatever is going on will pass and things will get better for me. During addiction recovery, I was able to get hope from others who had recovered. In business, I could get hope from other business owners who survived issues similar or greater than mine. Now, when I am struggling, I try to see anything I can as a sign or a light at the end of the tunnel, regardless of how dim. I don’t care if it is real or imaginary, all that matters is I have some hope to keep me breathing and to keep me walking towards the next part of my journey one day at a time. My HOPE in writing this is that my story can offer the reader a glimmer of hope.
Photo by Mark Elliott Rogers