Just a detour . . !

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A couple of years ago while traveling in scenic Austria, I got down from the car and sat by the side of a mountain besides a flowing brook.

It was no restful and peaceful and I was nearly lulled to sleep by the sound of the water, but knowing it would be an experience I would always cherish, I forced myself awake and lowered my feet into the passing stream.

I looked up at the towering mountains and I knew that we would be slowly climbing them after the halt. I then looked down to where the mountains ended and suddenly down below the place looked dark and forbidding, sinister and chilling.

It was a strange experience to be in the middle of the two scenes. One so majestic and the other terrifying. Our lives also bring us to such places – where we can either journey into the depths of despair and depression or rise to incredible heights – depending on the direction we head.

Yet, the mountaintop may not be where we want to reside, either. In a letter to Sheila, a suicidal person, an agony aunt shared some exquisite wisdom:

“Dear Sheila,” she wrote, “I know all too well the battle you are engaged in. You see, I spent many years in the deep, dark valleys of mental illness. Most (people) want to be on the mountaintop. I don’t. I have climbed mountains up to 17,000 feet.

“I have also been in the deep, dark valleys where the walls are so steep that nothing grows; there is complete darkness and one is all alone. It’s a terrifying place to be in. What I do enjoy is being in the valley with the green pastures and where the streams are gentle and calm…”

Naturally, there are often valid medical reasons for mood shifts and depression. And it may require all of our resources to climb back out of our private Bad Water experience: we may require support from the medical community, friends and family, as well as our spiritual resources. But we are not alone. I like the counsel of Abraham Lincoln, who was similarly afflicted. In a letter to a friend, he once wrote: “You now believe that you will never feel better. But this is not true. You are sure to be happy again. Knowing this, truly believing it, will make you less miserable now.”

It is true that few of us seem to stay in that peaceful valley for long. But, as someone aptly said, “The truly happy person is one who can enjoy the scenery wherever he is who can look at his present situation and know that it is just a detour, that’s all.” Detours are only detours my friend and soon you will get back into the peaceful green valley or onto the mountain top..!

 

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