Dear Ones –

A friend of this page sent in this heart-wrenching question yesterday, and I hoped that we all might be able to help her. I have been there, where she is now, and I suspect that some of you have been there, as well.

I'm attaching a link to an Etsy page with a design of one of my favorite guiding Rumi quotes on it (I wanted to support the artist!), which is: "LET THE BEAUTY YOU LOVE BE WHAT YOU DO."

Because that is the first thought that came to my mind, when I read this tormented question: Let the beauty you love be what you do. You MUST find something of beauty in the world and follow it, pursue it, wrap yourself up in it, and even participate in it. The great paradox of life is that recognizing beauty is agonizingly difficult when you are depressed — but at no time is the pursuit of beauty more important than you when you are depressed. Because it will save you.

When I was going through my darkest days (the days where I would wake up at 4:30 in the morning already in tears) I remember stubbornly deciding that I must chase light and beauty as hard as I could, with whatever I had left. I would wake up in a full depression and then — almost like as if using an emotional CATscan — I would survey my entire being to see if there was even ONE MOLECULE of light in my body, soul, heart or mind. Was there ANYTHING, any thought, any memory, any wish, that brought even a molecule of goodness, happiness, interest to my mind? It was like looking for a tumor, but not a bad tumor — a good one. A few cluster-cells of beauty. And then, when I found some cells that felt like they had light (even if it was as simple as remembering a book that I wanted to read, or an old friend that I wanted to call, or a movie that seemed interesting, or a tiny act of kindness that moved me, or a course of study that intrigued me) I would commit to building upon that. Take what is good, and add to it. Stubbornly. Very stubbornly.

Remember…YOU CANNOT CHASE OUT DARKNESS; YOU CAN ONLY BRING IN LIGHT. And once you have found a bit of light inside you, no matter how small, cling to it and find a creative way to expand it — until that light grows, and the darkness fades in direct proportion . The God that you feel has forgotten you is hidden in the middle of that tiny bit of light.

Also, I must say…if this is a real depression, and not just a temporary funk, PLEASE find help. Find a counselor, a minister, a sympathetic neighbor, a therapist, a doctor, a support group, a community — somebody good and kind who will assist you. Don't go through misery alone, trying to tough it out. Solitude will only extend it.

Most of all, though, trust in beauty. Trust in beauty any form — physical, emotional, spiritual, artistic. Trust in beauty, follow it, collect it. Look deep, to discover what you consider beautiful, and then join it. Make something beautiful. A garden, a gift, a cake, a book, an hour of your time donated to somebody in need, a song, a prayer, a dance, a lesson. This need not have anything to do with your job. Forget about your job. Change your job if able to, but if you can't — never mind. I've had shitty jobs, you've had shitty jobs, everyone has had shitty jobs. Lots of people have shitty jobs right now and find a way live full lives, anyhow. Show up at your shitty job if you need the money, but then commit the remaining hours and days of your life to the relentless hunt for beauty.

Go find out what is the beauty you love. Then go BE that. God will meet you there, I promise.

(And don't be too proud to ask for help.)

So that's my advice.

Please, everyone — do chime in with your own advice to help a suffering fellow seeker. I know you have all been there…

Safe passage,

My "Hand with flower" print & Rumi quote: "Let the beauty you love be what you do" hand printed…
I draw and carve rubber block prints of beings and objects that move me, including words. I knew my life would never be the same after I read this

via Elizabeth Gilbert’s Facebook Wall