Tragedy convinced me that “fair and unfair” are human constructs in the eyes of the universe, a system of values created by our species to help us (hopefully) live our best lives. It is true that our beliefs are not unimportant to us humans but to the infinite universe, I realised that those constructs are as inconsequential as the concept of linear time and of day and night: gradations to help us perceive equilibrium and structure of an infinite order that we would not be able to understand otherwise. The universe continues on regardless of how fair or unfair our lives are.
2020 was a hard year for many people in the world: between world catastrophes and personal tragedy, loss was everywhere. Personally, I found myself not immune to loss either as my life seemed to go from loss to loss to more loss. In the midst of the never-ending maelstrom though, I also learnt valuable lessons which led me to start a personal transformation journey.
However, it is necessary to talk of the hurt first: Heartbreak is one of the most powerful things that can happen to someone. Last year, I learnt that the hard way. After a terrible accident which compelled me to have to learn to walk again, I also lost people I called family: some through death and others who chose to not be in my life anymore. The details of what happened do not matter nor the reasons but what does for this story are the feelings of grief, sadness, rage and abandonment I felt.
In the backdrop of all of this, the Pandemic raged with all of its unpleasant meanderings: lockdowns, anxiety and fear, people I knew falling sick or losing their jobs and my own difficulty in finding employment in a global economy which seemed on the brink.
I felt I deserved better and that clearly, the stars did not seem to be my friends at that point. Yet, somehow, maybe from a place of self-preservation, lessons emerged and I would like to think I evolved from all these events.
Through it all: learning
The greatest lesson for me was life is not fair and the universe continues its dance of space and time regardless. I also learnt though that what matters, what can even the scale is what we learn from the experience and what we chose to do with these lessons. While hard to accept at first, this lesson liberated me and helped me realise that I alone was responsible for my happiness. I chose to work on myself with what I was learning to become better than yesterday.
I also learnt that one’s mindset is everything: whatever happens, the good, the bad and the ugly can all be made wondrous through our view point. We have the power to choose our perspective and in this lies hope within especially when there seems to be none in the world around us. Yes, I did not have a job yet but I had enough to meet my needs and for now, more time to spend with loved ones during lockdown.
I also learnt that to think positive does not mean that one is not aware of reality, on the contrary. It means to search reality harder and see that it contains beauty even when there seems none left. I chose to focus on what I had: loved ones, a safe home, a beautiful balcony vista. This made me more resilient and it gave me the will to endure.
The rage that consumed me initially was terrible but eventually tired of its fiery sting, I discovered one truth that helped me turn towards my better angels: a void left by someone’s departure is not filled through anger but rather by positive actions to help others. In the same vein, emotional fulfillment when our trust feels betrayed is best reached by focusing on making ourselves better, greater and ironically, making ourselves into the people that those who left us may have wanted us to become. I resolved to learn more, address character flaws and to love myself more.
I discovered how gratitude, especially in times when so many lost what we always took for granted, could make the days seem like blessings not a curse. In my case, writing down daily three things to be grateful for, sometimes gratitude for just having the gift of life, when others no longer had that, brightened my life. I thus started a gratitude journal which changed me to the core by making me appreciative of what I had.
I understood that we all need someone to help us through the winters of life: it does not matter how strong you think you are, you always need someone you can trust, someone who will listen without judgement, someone who will hold your hand when that is the only-and best-thing left to do. You always need a friend. I leaned on friends and often this gave me light and strength to get to the next sunrise.
I discovered that determination and never giving up were essential to navigate stormy seas to reach safe harbour. I resolved that whatever happened, the best way to overcome any storm was to keep rowing and know that both good and bad days will take place. For example, on days, when I found it hard to walk properly, I reminded myself that for today, trying was enough and that tomorrow would be a new chance to try again.
I learnt that it is when one does not feel like taking care of oneself that self-care is the most needed: rather than give in to self-destructive tendencies, I embraced meditation, exercise and patting myself on the back, small things which over time helped me love myself more.
Making it a journey of meaning
When I understood the universe would continue its journey regardless, whether or not it rained or shined on me, I found in that stark reality a sense of liberation and the gift of acceptance. With this gift came another: the desire to make my life the best it could be. After all, if the universe hurled forward with me in it, regardless of how I was doing, then I may as well go for the ride and make it a meaningful one.
Kevin Chitamun created “PicturePositive“, a global Facebook group dedicated to capturing moments of positivity in photography and sharing them so as to help people who may need hope and to show them that life is worth it. Kevin learnt through life experiences and through PicturePositive that kindness and positivity can change the world and now he tries to spread them everywhere he goes.
Image courtesy of Tomas Anunziata.