For the past 18 months, I have been struggling with a loss. It really doesn't matter the nature of my loss. All of us suffer them, sooner or later, big and small. It might be a job loss, a severe illness, a death of a loved one, a divorce, depression, loss of a pet, maybe even the passage of your children to college. Change is in the nature of things. But it often takes us by surprise, our assumptions are shattered, and suddenly we are broken and raw and on our knees.
I have been struggling to take this "brokenness" and connect to that place of certain wisdom that dwells in all of us. You may call this spirit. But it had been a labor, until life delivered another unexpected change. This time it was a way up.
At a party I accidentally combined two different prescription drugs I was taking for anxiety. While driving a friend back to San Francisco I began to feel vertigo, dizziness, light-headedness, confusion. Fortunately a major traffic jam on the Bay Bridge had brought cars to a complete standstill. I told my friend, "You have to drive," and got out of the car to change seats.
The next thing I remember is looking up into a circle of faces around me, staring down with concern and compassion. And I actually said, "Wow. Angels." I had fainted in the left lane of the Bay Bridge. You could say I'd hit rock bottom, and there were my fellow humans — all strangers — coming to my rescue. I felt loved and safe in that moment. I recovered quickly, but I also understood my life had to change in a simple but important way.
The support I needed would not come from medication but from the angels that surround us everyday. I needed to reach out to friends and family in an honest, vulnerable way and say, "I am hurting and I need your help." This was contrary to my entire pattern of doing everything for myself, but what a difference it's made. I feel more deeply connected now to everyone that I encounter.
Since that rock bottom moment on the Bay Bridge, now everything — literally and figuratively — is looking up.
This is Michael Ellis, with a Perspective.
Michael Ellis is a naturalist who leads trips throughout the world. He lives in Santa Rosa.