Saturday, April 30, 2016

Hope Is More Than A Keyword, Too.

Man, it seems like we've been talking about Depression forever, doesn't it? We started with just a little kernel of thought, a need to share some truth, to shed some light on a dark subject that's become hardly more than a hashtag in today's society. On the one hand it's a good thing, the commonplace way we look at depression, the way the stigma is falling away and we are, as a general society, trying to look upon depression with more compassion and understanding than ever before. Through the increased awareness, we've created worldwide campaigns against bullying, violence, and all other sorts of basic human meanness, all in an effort to spread happiness to each other. This is a beautiful thing; we try harder now, as a people, to be more conscious of how our words and actions make others feel, and we nurture empathy perhaps more than any other form of human compassion.

Let us not forget though, as we accept Depression and what it means for the people living under its cloud, to offer a cure. We talk often about the cure for this Cancer, the cure for Alzheimer's, the cure for MS, the cure ALS, the cure for ... everything. We spread awareness with the explicit purpose of bringing each other together in a battle, a war against the various afflictions that attack the human species on a daily basis. We want to team up, we want each person to give a dollar to research, we want everyone to pledge and walk the marathon, we want everyone to put the bumper sticker on their car.

The sad truth is that there are some things we have to do all of that for, or we'll never accomplish the end goal. If we don't work together, we'll never cure cancer or any of the other myriad illnesses that plague us. And without awareness spreading among us like an epidemic, there is no working together.

We talk about it to spread the sadness of it, to share the pain of it, so that together, we can all shoulder the burdens. We do it with taxes and welfare and food stamps too, but that's a whole other post.

The point I'm trying to make here is that although we do all of this, together, for so many individual reasons, it all boils down to just one thing. One simple word. One little flickering flame against the darkness of the human condition. The one thing that can solve everything, cure everything, if only we used it as a building block.

Hope.

We share memes all the time that say different variations of "lighting another person's candle doesn't diminish your own flame," but I'm not sure we really believe it in a day to day setting. I'm not sure we really believe that we can share the light from one soul to another as easily as we might light a match from a fire, and then use it to light five other candles. We should, though, because that's how you light the deepest corners of a darkened room, with one flame spread slowly, one flame that becomes two, that becomes three, and so on.
  • "Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness." -- Desmond Tutu
  • "Hope is like the sun, which, as we journey toward it, casts the shadow of our burden behind us." -- Samuel Smiles

Hope is what makes us donate a dollar to research. Hope is what makes us walk that marathon. It's how we'll finally find that cure we're always searching for ... the cure is built on each tiny little block of hope, stacked ever so carefully upon the ones that came before it. Hope is what makes us join hands in church as we pray. Hope is what makes us encourage our loved ones. Hope is what makes us willing to walk into the darkness of illness, of injury, of depression -- we do it with hope, and the eager belief that it is possible to retrieve a loved one who has become lost. Hope is what makes us sit in a hospital waiting room, it's what urges us to go on that first date. It's the thing we're most filled with as we touch the fresh softness of a newborn baby.

But we must be willing to share it. We must be willing to give of our own stores to others who have run out. Next week, I'm going to set the Kingsley Series aside (for now, until it's time to talk about Evan's story), and I'm going to talk about a story of hope, a story of perseverance, a story of unimaginable strength. I'm going to talk to you in a way I've never talked before, about a story that means more to me than I could ever say. I'm going to tell you about the story behind Fighting For Freedom, the reason I wrote it. I'm going to share with you the tiny kernel of hope that's growing because of that book, let you crowd around and look in on the privately sheltered flame of hope that sparked to life with Christine's story. Because ...
  • "Everything that is done in the world is done by hope." -- Martin Luther

In the meantime, I love you all, and thank you so much for the way so many of you wrote to me these past weeks to ask if I was alright and what prompted me to write so thoroughly on the subjects of depression and mental illness. Thank you for reaching out, for being willing to lend your flame to spark mine when it wavered. You guys are everything.

Until next week,
Happy Reading.
B.

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