Don’t Give Up

AT THE CRACK OF DAWN, the sky inky and blue and the buildings beyond my open window awakened by the cool, rising sun, I return to love. Always. I return to the cold empty page, barren like the moon, warmed by the glow of a heart exploring.

It’s been a difficult season, man. Not the promise of autumn nor the memory of summer, but this season of my youth. I wouldn’t ask for it any other way.

I know my obstacles, while often seemingly insurmountable to me, are trivial compared to what others are enduring. I hope what I write is taken as a search for the light in a life that can feel so dark, so hopeless.

I write to reignite hope in myself and in others. But right now, fuck, it’s been hard. I’m in pain nearly every single day that longs to consume the entirety of my being.

I’d love to write about anything else than my chronic pain — seriously — but life will always present us with problems.

Writing is how I strive to understand and ultimately overcome them.

I tell people I’m a travel writer, because that’s the easiest way to describe what I love. I love to travel more than anything when I can do it — but really, I tell stories about the experience of being alive, which is anything but easy.

I create to inspire.

My difficulties have made me fight to be the light, and that’s given me more meaning than — dare I say — traveling ever could. 

There are days when I can’t fathom the blessings I’ve arbitrarily received, where I’m overwhelmed with joy and sheer awe at the gift of another breath on planet Earth.

There are days when I fall apart completely.

I’m sure you know the feeling; we’re all going through something.

One day — I pray and believe this day will come in the next year — this seven-year odyssey to heal my body will conclude.

Until then, I’ll continue to show the world and myself just how strong we humans are and have always been. In the words of philosopher Albert Camus:

In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer. And that makes me happy. For it says that no matter how hard the world pushes against me, within me, there's something stronger - something better, pushing right back.

My back pain might be migraines for others; money problems and anxiety; an unexpected sickness; it might, in the worst of circumstances which people are currently confronting, be terrorism, death, unfathomable evil.

The world is hurting.

I just appreciate you listening.

“There can wisely be no ‘solutions’ no self-help, of a kind that removes problems altogether,” writes contemporary philosopher Alain de Botton in The School of Life.

“What we can aim for, at best, is consolation… A philosophy of consolation directs us to two important salves: understanding and companionship. Our grasping what our problem is — and knowing that we are not alone with it. Understanding does not magically remove the pain, but it has the power to reduce a range of secondary aggravations and fears. 

“It helps immensely too to know that we are in company. Despite the upbeat tone of society in general, there is solace in the discovery that everyone else is, in private, of course, are as bewildered and regretful as we are.”

You’re here for me, and I’m here for you.

This life is precious. It’s relentless and beautiful and devastating and will bear down on us without mercy; it’s up to us to dig deep to shed the light which fights to break free from the chamber of our hearts, the light which shines the brightest in the darkness.

As philosopher Alan Watts says:

Where else could it shine?

What we deal with now has to be a setup for who we’ll ultimately become, as difficult as it is to see that in this moment. Our problems are happening for us, not to us. 

I’ve learned through my challenges just whom I am and whom I long to be. I’ve proven to myself through facing these challenges that I’m already there — this is me.

I’m reading an awesome book right now, the best fiction I’ve read in a long time, The Midnight Library, by Matt Haig. The book tells the story of a girl whose life, she believes, isn’t worth living.

She tries to kill herself and ends up in a library with endless books, each a different path her life could have taken if she could erase her regrets and do things differently.

And guess what:

Each path has its own set of problems, no matter how appealing it seems on the surface. 

I have faith that one day soon I will be out of pain.

But I don’t wish for a different life. I love this life so goddam much, because if not for this, who knows what I’d be dealing with?

Who knows if I’d have begun such fervent construction of my inner citadel, a sanctum of peace and love and healing, which every day is beset by siege, built stronger each time I choose love over bitterness and rage.

This week, I posted a story on Instagram of a blank white page with the words:

Don’t give up.

These were words which at that moment I needed to hear. I knew if I needed them, there had to be somebody out there who needed them, too.

Without this challenge, who knows if I’d ever write those three words and post them on Instagram, not as a cheesy Hallmark card but as words typed with tears in my eyes while sitting on the train heading to work, not of self-pity but of fire, praying that I and the world can find the strength to say FUCK THIS.

And simply continue.

I pray to the forces beyond my comprehension to work through me as an agent of good, love, and healing in this world. I need help to face what I just can’t explain. While I’m on my own, I know I’m not alone, and neither are you.

No matter how many times you stumble or hurt or wanna throw it all away; scream, run, fly, fall — just don’t give up.

Take one more step, because eventually, if you just continue, things will change.

You’ll look back in awe at what you made it through, whom your challenges forced you to become.

A stronger, more mature, capable and loving human being who can take the hand that they’ve been dealt and smile, no matter what the cards show.

This isn’t empty motivation.

These are words backed by a heart that’s been tested, crushed and bruised, yet still beats stronger every day for what it’s overcome; a soul that knows the best days are still ahead; a spirit that feels locked inside a body like a bird in a cage, yet still whistles, flaps its wings and looks beyond the bars into the sky, knowing one day soon it’ll fucking fly.

Whether it’s an insurmountable challenge, a dream, a project, survival, or being there for somebody in need:

Don’t give up.

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