Much has happened since I first wrote this last Sunday morning. The message came a little closer to home than I was prepared (more on that later). It is the glimmer of hope that moves us away from despair.
On occasion, my son and I will open up an old treasure chest that has been passed down through the generations. The chest is filled with old coins and currency from around the world. Alec loves looking at the coins that will someday be passed down to him.
One evening, Alec started to ask a question. It began as, “Daddy, when you pass…” I had a look of shock on my face, and he began to cry thinking he said something offensive. I reassured him that I was not upset. Later that night, he asked me about death. We talked about this reality and that, even though it is often filled with sadness, death is something none of us can escape. I found his knowledge on the subject remarkable for a six year-old. One of the points he was quick to make was that we can live for weeks without food, days without water, but not very long without air.
When the panic sets in. When we are hit with an overwhelming anxiety. What is often the best cure? Air. As our heart is pounding away in our moment of distress, it is the air we breathe that has the ability to take us off the ledge. When the worst is upon us, it is the simple act of breathing that brings rational thought to the forefront of our minds and allows us to move away from the danger.
Without air we cannot hope to live. The air gives us hope.
General Patton said success is how high we bounce after we hit bottom. But often the bounce back up is not immediate. The bottom is filled with misery. It is hard to breathe down there. It is hard to see. Very little light, very little air. Hitting the bottom hurts. It is called rock bottom for a reason. It is hard. Nobody wants to be at the bottom. But even here, when death is lurking around the corner, you still have life. Maybe not much, but yet there is still life. There is still air. There is still hope.
Hope is a seed. It is a dream that begins in the darkness with little air. But once nourished can grow into something magnificent and beautiful. Dreams don’t come true overnight. Neither does success after hitting the bottom. You have to cultivate the seedling. You have to work. If it grows too fast, the little plant’s root will not hold. So you cut it back. You slow down the growth until the foundation is stronger. As you continue to work, the plant grows gaining more light and more air. In time it may bear fruit, and it all began with hope.
There is an amazing thing about seeds. If preserved correctly, they can still germinate when they are really old (even a 32,000 year old seed brought back to life). There is an amazing thing about some of us as humans as well. We have the ability to dream and the ability cultivate that dream into something meaningful and fruitful. Regardless of age.
When you cease to dream you cease to live. –Malcolm Forbes