Life is a Tunnel, Not a Cave
I host a podcast with some friends. It's called the Discovering Dad Podcast and i'm fortunate enough to have weekly conversations with amazing and inspiring men all around the world. This post isn't to toot my podcast horn, but I did want to talk about something that came up on the show a few weeks ago that has stuck with me.
I was chatting with Richie Norton and we were talking about grief. Richie mentioned that life is not a cave, but a tunnel. And that when you approach life like a cave, you go in, you get lost and kind of stuck there. And the only way out is to go back out the way you came in...or move backwards. But if you look at life like a tunnel, that means you're moving through it, and specifically when times are hard, that means there's an ending...and it doesn't involve going backwards. It involves moving through, towards the light.
I've been kicking the tunnel idea around in my head for the past few weeks. And it's helped me so much when applied to my life. I'm pretty open about the struggles I've been going through in the last 7 months or so. Canceling the 5 month family Europe trip we'd been planning for 4 years 4 weeks before we were supposed to leave. Having not one but two of my kids diagnosed with cystic fibrosis since November. The tragic loss of Jenny's twin brother in May and the effects that's had on my wife and family since then. All hard things.
I had found myself stuck. And thinking that these hard things were just going to keep piling on. That life was just dumping on me. I felt stuck in a cave. Being stuck in a cave is not a good place to be. I didn't want to get out of bed some days. I didn't want to try and be strong and positive and hopeful, because I felt like life was too much to bear. I can't lie, there have been some days this year that I wish I had do overs. Days where I said and did things I regret deeply. I've hurt people in my life who love me. I was acting out of fear. A fear that I'd always be stuck in this cave and life didn't have any good things in store for me. I felt hopeless.
But after chatting with Richie, and hearing his tunnel analogy, I realized I was looking at my life all wrong. Nothing is permanent. Everything is constantly changing. Anger comes and goes. Hard things come and go. Joyful feelings come and go. People come and go. Relationships come and go. Eventually we'll go too. I have no clue how long anything will last...this long period of struggle could lead to years and years of amazing times. I have no clue, really, and that's ok. All I do know is that right now, I'm in an incredibly challenging tunnel. But there is an end. I can see the light up ahead. I have no idea how long I'll be in this tunnel, but I do know it won't be forever. I am not stuck. I am moving forward, toward the light. Maybe I'm going slow, I don't really know. But the key is forward movement.
My hope for this post is that if you find yourself feeling stuck in a cave that you realize you're not. Whatever is going on in your life, whatever struggles are currently affecting you, they will have an ending. That's the way life is. You are moving through a tunnel, towards the light. I know you can do it. I know it's going to be hard...but know that anything I've done in life that's hard has been worthwhile and led me to a more meaningful existence. Your struggles are every bit as important to your story as your triumphs. As cliche as it sounds, just keep moving forward, let love guide you. You will get through your tunnel. You are not stuck in a cave.