When I was little, my mother would read me a bedtime story about an elephant who would cheerfully chant ”I can do anything if I try hard enough” when faced with the next dilemma. And indeed he did. I think this sentiment subtly embedded itself inside me and no matter how unfavourable the conditions I often approach a situation with the stalwart (or foolhardy) belief that if I am determined and positive enough it will all work out well in the end.
This is great when it happens. I’m sure it has helped me achieve things I might not necessarily even have thought possible if I had bothered to stop and actually think more, before rushing headlong into them. However, every now and then, when something especially important to me, particularly anything to do with my family, doesn’t go according to plan, despite my best efforts, I am stumped. It is so difficult to accept that no matter how great your need or however passionately you feel about something, that this depth of feeling doesn’t necessarily translate into that thing you want so desperately to happen, happening.
Sometimes, it seems belief, love, determination, just aren’t enough. They can be whisked up and out of us, dispersed erratically into the atmosphere when the world wills it. BUT. And this is a big but; I do believe that we are the sum of our parts. All the wonderful moments in our life are a product of negative and positive events that happened before. So no matter how defeated I am at a given time, there is always the small part of me (sometimes so small I don’t realise until a while later!) that knows this grief, failure, defeat, whatever I may call it, is one of the building blocks for a wonderful thing ahead.
And then when I’m bored of being defeated I remember another rather loftier piece of literature my mother quotes when things have gone wrong. From a poem by John Dryden.
“I am sore wounded but not slain. I will lay me down and bleed a while.
And then rise up to fight again”
Sometimes we need to allow ourselves time to recover. Grieve. Shout, stamp for a bit if we feel like it. Remove ourselves from the exhaustion of pretence that everything is ok and give ourselves time to gather our strength and start again. Who knows the next most wonderful thing might be around the corner.
Anyway, I wrote this poem when despite all my best efforts something didn’t go according to plan and I was feeling a bit rubbish...
I’ll take the troubles of today,
I’ll take the heartache of the night,
I’ll spread them out and let them breathe,
I’ll tell myself that it’s alright
To cry and sob and cry again
Until my tears cascade like rain,
Until my grief pours itself dry,
Until there’s no tears left to cry.
And when I’ve washed and dried my heart
And when I’m bored of staying still
And when I’m strong enough to start
I’ll take my strength and climb the hill.
For there’s a time to grieve and rest
For healing hurts and it takes time
But I am told the view is best
When you are ready for the climb