(written by Ash L’Esperance)
Love and hard times.
Life is just bursting with both, isn’t it?
One of my favorite authors, Glennon Doyle Melton, calls life “brutiful.” Brutal & beautiful.
My heart’s been broken into bits these past few days by this very idea, and I haven’t really known how to write about it. I guess I still don’t, but here I am, soldiering on in Love and Hard Times.
I’ve been wanting to buy Paul Simon’s 2011 album “So Beautiful or So What”, so I downloaded it today. I knew I’d be pleasantly surprised, so today’s sick day was the perfect opportunity to lay in bed & give it a thorough listen. I truly love it as much as I’ve loved all of Paul Simon’s past work. It’s full of life’s truest and hardest dichotomy — Love & Hard Times (the title of my favorite track of the album).
Saturday was the second time in my life I picked up the phone to a crying woman tell me about someone I’d known who had died by suicide. I had a friend in high school, with whom I have done a terrible job keeping in touch, who became partially paralyzed after a hiking accident just after graduation. They’d suffered from chronic pain, isolation, depression, and all of the unimaginable other pains that come with this type of massive tragedy. They were in hell. I’m sure of it. They felt the only way out of that hell was to die.
I feel sad and guilty and confused and sorry. I didn’t keep in touch. Was there something I could’ve done? I asked God on Saturday about 50 times, “Why is this life such hell for some people?” as I get ready to play a sold out show in Boston.
Then, we go to the show, play to an incredible room and stay up until 2am dancing and laughing until our faces hurt and our voices are gone. We say our name dozens of times throughout the night. The Promise is Hope. And I believe, for a moment, that it’s true. That the promise really is hope. I think….
I’m there, in the midst of such joy, thinking, “This is just too beautiful.”
And my friend, the night before thought, “This is just too brutal”
Love and hard times. I take a breath in and know they are both here with me simultaneously. Somehow despair and hope live in the same atmosphere.
I believe God loves us fully and would give us anything & everything in the whole Universe. I also don’t know why He doesn’t rescue us from depression. Or paralysis. Or bipolar disorder. Or chronic pain. Or poverty. But I know that He will bring us massive joys without warning. Like the music that flows to my ears today. It makes me feel alive and joyful; connected with every human all at once.
See, I still don’t know how to write about this. I usually try to write to bring myself to some kind of peaceful conclusion. But there is no answer or reassurance for the reality of this life – that it is both so beautiful and brutal all at once. That God is always here, but sometimes hell is also here.
All I really want to say is – if you are feeling hopeless today, I get it. I believe that it’s nearly impossible to choose happiness when you are struggling with depression, chronic pain, or whatever else might be ailing you. It’s almost impossible to see the hope sometimes. It certainly doesn’t feel like any kind of promise. BUT. I do promise you that it’ll come again. It will come again. Close your eyes and find one thing to be grateful for and hang out to that for dear life. Listen to an amazing album, like “So Beautiful or So What”. If it doesn’t come today, it will come again at some point.
I want you to know that I’ve been there in the impossibility of hopelessness. I’ve struggled with depression since I was probably 13 or 14, and I totally understand the incomprehensible weight that makes it impossible to get out of bed some days. I do. Even so, I know there is still love. There is love and hard times, I know. Wait for the love. Wait for hope. It’s seeking you out and you’ll see it again.
If you can’t see love anywhere else,
Know that I – without a doubt – love you.
And we are connected by love and hard times and hope and music and all of the beautiful things on this earth.
If that’s not enough, please reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
I wrote our song, “This Old Tin Roof” in my own desperation for hope. Perhaps it will resonate with you and shed some light on all of this Love and Hard Times.