Pin It I drove across town in a bleary haze. It had been a long day. It always tends to be that the long, hard days are punctuated by fatigue, aren’t they? I felt a sense of deep emptiness as I drove; the few snowflakes falling from the blackened skies caught in the beam of my headlights for just a moment, like little, white moths drawn to a bug zapper.
As I drove, a depression I’d not felt in a while seemed to ebb though the vents and settle over me, a blanketing mist that threatened to take me under. It was a feeling of loneliness, worthlessness, and realization of all of my faults and shortcomings. It was a time of comparing myself to others, and finding that I was coming up short in so many ways.
Why wasn’t I as nice as So-and-So?
How come I wasn’t as talented as What’s-His-Face?
Why wasn’t I as organized as What’s-Her-Bucket?
When was I going to get to that immense to-do list?
Who would even care if I just stopped trying?
The feeling cast its shadow over me as I continued on my journey. Fumbling with my iPod, I found the most depressing song that I could, and proceeded to play again and again. I allowed each and every failure to take center stage in the spotlight of my mind. I allowed the emptiness to swell to mammoth proportions, and let myself feel completely despondent.
The world was a terrible place.
Nothing seemed of value.
I embraced hopelessness as an old friend.
I parked my car and wandered into the local grocery store seeking orange juice. I walked past the deli section, and the counter where I’d bought ice cream so often before. I hadn’t done that in a long time. Grudgingly, I strode up to the counter and paid for a cone. When the woman asked what flavor I wanted, I explained that I wanted her to save it for someone who really looked like they needed it. “Please give it to them,” I instructed, “and tell them that it’s from somebody who hopes they feel better soon.”
The woman smiled – a smile as big as Christmas itself – as I walked away.
I felt the tiniest spark.
I headed to the freezer section and pulled out five or so cylinders of orange juice. While walking to the check stand, one of them slipped from my grasp and rolled across the floor. A woman’s son picked it up and handed it back to me with a smile.
There was a flicker.
The cashier beamed as I paid for my things and wished me a nice day – double bagging my items so that they would be safe.
The flame was smoldering.
I strode out to my car; as I did, I changed the song on my iPod. As the new music poured from the speakers, I drove toward home. A few random snowflakes fell from the evening skies, catching in the glow of my headlights like little, white fireflies floating on the breeze.
The night was still dark, but the blackness wasn’t quite so dense.
The world was still vast, but it wasn’t as empty as it was before.
I still had problems, but they did not feel nearly so hopeless.
You know, I’m convinced that the best remedy for hopelessness is stepping around the obstacle of ourselves – even just a little bit – and opening the door of hope just wide enough so that others can poke their heads in.