At the end of each year, I’ve written an article summarizing the lessons I received during the previous twelve months, egotistically assuming that people were interested in the course my life was taking. What I’ve come to realize in 2017 is that although the details differ, my life isn’t any more or any less remarkable than anyone else’s. We all struggle, we all reach out in some way, and if we’re both lucky and attentive, we all grow.
Despite the natural disasters and rampant hooliganism of the last twelve months, there have been some valuable results. Many people don’t see them because it’s difficult to believe that anything positive exists in a negative environment. There is no good way to die, and there have been many utterly senseless deaths. The general response usually has been acts of impotent rage–marches to increase awareness (but don’t); protestation in the different types of media available to us that draw attention to the protestor, but lead to no change for the better. Yes, it’s difficult, in such an environment, to think there’s anything good.
What I’ve learnt as I continue to understand my PTSD applies to life in general. The fact that people have had to endure earthquake, fire, flood, shooting, and on-going political villainy is terrible. Therefore, it is all the more wonderful that we have survived.
This quotation is from one of my favourite poems, Ulysses, by Alfred, Lord Tennyson:
Tho’ much is taken, much abides; and tho’
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.
How do we strive, seek, find, and not yield? We recognise what is before us for what it is. We have hope for something better. In having hope, we make a place for something better. In that space, we plant the seed of faith (whatever faith means to each of us). Things do get better. However long it takes, evil does not last forever–it takes too much.
At the end, if you remember it, you have survived it. That’s pretty good news.
Tennyson, in the same poem, also said something else we can take to heart:
Come, my friends, ’Tis not too late to seek a newer world.
Let us, in 2018, seek a newer world. Let us strive, seek, find and not yield. Hope and have faith that things will improve, and they will.
I hope for all of you a better tomorrow and a better year!
Paul TN Chapman
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