The Only Option is to Feel all the Feels

It’s not the pain, loss, or sadness I worry about most. It’s the temptation to safeguard. To build a wall around our heart in the hopes of protecting it from any further ache. To avoid the dark and simultaneously miss out on the light.

I fear the hard times will overshadow the good ones. That the pain of losing will prevent us from loving. That the fear of failure will keep us from dreaming big, trying hard.

I fear we’ll become so entranced with the shiny lure of ease and perfection that we’ll forget the utility of tenacious effort, the necessity of discomfort.

It’s not the heartbreak, suffering, or crying I appreciate most. It’s what comes from them. The strength and fortitude. The lessons and opportunities.

I hope the good times will outweigh the bad. That the beauty of life will help us see the joyous possibilities. That the everyday miracles and tiny bits of awesome will keep us loving, connecting and living with grace, kindness and passion.

I hope we’ll see the opportunities within every obstacle, the invitation in each heartbreak to expand and grow.

I hope and fear in between bouts of crying. While lying on the floor, crushed from the heavy weight of life’s challenges – of companions passed, of friends suffering, of family ailing. I hope and fear in between moments of gratitude. When walking through the woods appreciating the duality of it all – the adventures big and small, the people near and far.

I don’t have all the answers. Probably never will. But I do know the hard times are just as important as the good. That without the dark we’d never notice the light. That there is no way to numb one without lessening the other. The only option is to feel all the feels.

To look for the lessons in the pain. To love and laugh, weep and grieve, smile and celebrate. To love freely, give generously and build community strong and true. To see the brutal beauty that is life and embrace it. To get knocked down and get up again. And again. And again.

Or as Epictetus wrote,

“Every difficulty in life presents us with an opportunity to turn inward and to invoke our own submerged inner resources. The trials we endure can and should introduce us to our strengths.”

Mallory Paige Heads into the Forest

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