I recently finished Dr. Terry Gordon’s book, No Storm Lasts Forever, a diary he kept throughout the first few months following a tragic accident that left his son Tyler paralyzed. Dr. Gordon is one of those rare individuals who can draw insight and wisdom from life where many see nothing but random occurrence. Although my storm is very different, and not in any way comparable to Dr. Gordon’s, it is still a loss, and it has caused me to experience the various stages of grief. When we experience loss, it opens up a void within us that can become susceptible to negative thoughts and emotions. I myself am a victim of this, and recently have been plagued with my own fears and self-doubts and questioning of my path entirely. I do know that ultimately it all comes down to this: we must be the heroes of our own stories in order to save ourselves and come to peace.
In 1873, a man named Horatio Spafford decided to send his wife and their four daughters on a trip to Europe. They were to sail ahead of him, as he had to deal with the aftermath of real estate investments that had been destroyed in the Chicago fire of 1871. Tragically, the ocean liner his wife and children were on collided with another vessel and sank. His wife survived, and from England sent her husband a telegram that said, “Saved alone.” Spafford then sailed to England to meet her, and as his vessel passed the place where his four daughters had passed, he penned the words:
When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well with my soul.
Loss is so painful to deal with; and as I journey through these days and weeks I can see that although I may be training my physical body to become strong, I have been neglecting my mind. There is a psychological term called, “rumination,” in which we let our worries overcome us. We must be strong and not let ourselves be sucked into the vacuum of despair. In the words of Plato, “For a man to conquer himself is the first and noblest of all victories.” We either come to terms with our respective lots or we are destroyed by our own sorrows and insecurities. And in destroying ourselves, we destroy others along with us. I wonder what sort of world this would be if every man was able to come to terms with his own demons. I imagine there would be so much less suffering.
Finally, to close with some wise words from Rafiki: