Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.
Why are we so drawn to the Phoenix–this powerful symbol of redemption, triumph over great adversity and uncompromising beauty from the ashes of destruction? What is it that draws so many to its light? Is it that during the course of our lifetimes we must be reborn so many times, or is it the epitome of the popular tales we embrace about everything working out in the end?
It is easy to love the Phoenix after the awakening. But what about the time before it rises? What about the moments when the coals are heaped on its head and the uncertainty of a breakthrough seems more certain than anything?
Our culture seems obsessed with the image of the comeback kid, only after the comeback has been cemented, but is seemingly less tolerant of the time before the comeback. We see it played out every day and judge people who “appear” to not have the all that popular culture deems worthy. We are in a time of kicking people when they are down, pandering to salacious gossips and high ratings for the most over the top displays of ratchet-ness possible.
I have been on the receiving end of taunts about what I have or don’t have, what I look like, who I choose to associate with, and even the break up of my marriage. To say that these taunts didn’t sting would be a lie, and to say that I didn’t have a few dark nights of the soul, would be equally as false. The worst thing about it, was that they came from people I chose to let into my heart and soul. So in hindsight it looks like all they were doing was taking notes on how to hurt me, and not understanding the source of my frailties. But the blessing was the curse–even though it didn’t seem like it at the time.
Thankfully I had real friends who held my head up to the light when I didn’t want to hold it up myself. I am thankful for those late night calls and long chats that were as loving as they were tough. And though I never thought I would get to the point of saying this, am grateful for the lowest points because they made me realize who was there. These points in time, when you believe you are too weak to push through the barren soil just to pray for rain, show you the hearts of the people you hold dear. Some will betray and some will stand beside you, but this is an education that takes you far beyond the lessons of books and lectures. This is when the pruning season has the most value.
The ashes of what you thought was your destiny, clears the way for the destiny this new you can handle better than the old skin you just shed. And despite the license you have and can use to be bitter, let the threshing floor hold all of that. Let this new knowledge reach others who may be in worse positions than you were. If you are only using your experience to rebuild yourself, you are doing a great disservice to the ones who need your story.
People with small minds are going to talk about things they have no idea about, and they may even get a few of the more malleable types to sympathize with the venom they are spitting. And yes it sucks if it gains traction and even a small, ignorant, torch-carrying mob. Concern yourself not with these people, and only with the life you are building as your personal example of redemption.
Everyone has a past, and everyone has things behind the dusty hangers of their lives that they hope never see the light of day. So if you are that type that feels inclined to bend your ear or cheer on someone else’s misfortune, remember that one day you may be in their shoes. You may be the one in the spotlight you so arrogantly directed at another. And before that day, remember that the way you mistreat, will be the pain you will eat. When in the moment of crucial decision, do not choose the path of ego and popularity. This path, while tempting, will only leave you scrambling to cover lies and maintain status which is, by its very nature, fleeting. Choose empathy and understanding, even if you must stand alone. This is what legends are constructed from. Choose empathy and understanding, for it is better to stand alone on stone than try to balance forever on the shifting sands of popular opinion.
My wish for the ones going through the fire, is for you to be the Phoenix. Be the Phoenix, even when you have yet to see yourself rise from the heat of your misfortune. For it is only by great pressure that diamonds are formed, and only by great heat that the purest gold is birthed into existence.
Image credit: Leunert/Pixabay