Today I want to talk to those of you who may be feeling depressed. We know that feeling, when we have tried out everything and nothing is working and we think there is no way out.
Whether it is problems in your job, conflict in relationships, health issues or a combination of everything I want to tell you to hold on, to rest and be gentle with yourself when you need it most. I want to tell you there is another way, an easier way yet to be discovered, just around the corner. I want to tell you to hang in there.
there is hope
When everything is dark and we don’t see our way out, when everything is black and white and we have lost sight of the colours of life, it is in those moments that it is easier to fall in despair.
I have been there. I had just moved to Dublin in the late 90s. I was alone in a city I didn’t know, with no friends and no family. Everything was new and exciting. I had to look for a place to live and look for work, all of it with my not so perfect English. It can be very overwhelming.
What kept me going?
Maybe the faith that something would turn up and I would find a place to live before I run out of money.
“If it’s meant to be it will happen; if not, I will just go back home. At least, I tried” I used to say to myself.
Invention is the mother of necessity
I will push myself because I had no choice but to survive and stretch myself to do things I had never done before.
I had to find a place to live at the height of the economic boom when rents were high, asking to pay upfront two and three months in advance, that would eat up my cash reserves. They were also in high demand.
I would find an ad in a board somewhere, I would brace myself to ring the number and all I could hear was a beep in the answering machine; everybody was at work and wouldn’t answer the phone until six pm. When I was lucky, I would get a human voice saying “no sorry, it’s gone”, call, after call, after call. It is easy to despair in this environment, especially when you are not accustomed to it and have no support system.
I kept on trying until, after three days that felt like an eternity, somebody called me back. I arranged to see the room and I took it straightaway. There was no time for indecision or, guess what! It would be gone, taken by somebody else.
In my walks from my job back to the house where I had just moved in a few months previously, I used to pass through Christchurch towards Thomas Street. At one point, I used to look up at one of the tall, grey buildings across the street. In one of the outside walls, at the very top, someone had painted quite a big graffiti on a black background with a white dove ready to fly and the words there is hope.
It became a ritual to look at it every time I passed that spot. It always cheered me up. I felt less alone, somebody lifting me up. I always seemed to read it after something happened at work or I was looking for work or any other challenge I was facing at the time. There it was, solidly reminding me that, no matter how bad I thought things were, there is hope. It was an oasis of positivity amidst the noise of the city traffic and the indifference of rushing passers-by.
I used to wonder how whoever had painted it had managed to get up there. It seemed an impossible task. Yet, there it was, cheering me on.
I think it’s no longer there. After a few years it disappeared, was erased.
Since then, I have realised the importance of these little messages and the impact they can have on people. I still remember it after all these years. No other mural I have ever seen I can remember. This one stands alone in my memory.
Taking inspiration from this graffiti, I decided to do this post to pay tribute to the anonymous author(s), to pass on the message, there is hope, and the following idea.
You could pin this card or paint your town or city with this image or a variation of it.
We cannot underestimate the impact we can have on people when they needed most.
I think the setting in which it is placed is important. Notice that, in my story because it was painted in an impossible place with no obvious access and near the sky, it got me thinking about these things, maybe changing my thought process from my problems and feelings to the graffiti. It forced me to look up, to the sky and away from the concrete pavement.
Have you ever felt bad, looking at the sky, contemplating the clouds?
I would love to hear from you if you take on this idea and where you decide to paint a mural or graffiti. It could be a lovely gesture to turn it into a card for someone in your life who needs it. We all need to be remind it from time to time. You could also pin it in the physical and virtual boards of this world.
What would happen if the cities, towns and villages of the world were full of inspiring, loving messages that would lift us up when we needed most? In the western world we are surrounded by paid advertising continuously brainwashing us.
I think these messages to the world are a way of connecting with other people, reminding us all of the goodness in the world, that somebody, out there, cares.
The graffiti itself was not very cheerful with the stark contrast of black and white. I think it speaks to the black and white frame of mind, the all-or-nothing attitude.
Everything black and dark, and, out of it, the words emerge standing out, etching in your mind. There is hope, there is light, talking of other possibilities, other worlds.
It is amazing to me to realise how little we need to carry on, to hold on to the tiniest bit of hope that can make us see a different perspective.
The smallest of gestures, a kind word or a smile cost nothing to give but can lift a person up and restore their faith in humanity.