The Storms We Go Through Bring Us Back To Life

July 4, 2016

A large part of who we are is determined by what we have experienced. We tend to under-appreciate the lessons of the most difficult experiences without stopping to think about the great positive change these were able to bring us. We miss how we were before unpleasant things happened to us, without realizing that in life, we will inevitably go through that sort of thing, the kind that we can emerge from destroyed or strengthened. These are life’s storms.

In reality, it is the tumultuous times, the big letdowns, and the unpleasant experiences that reveal our true nature and lead us to be stronger and more resilient. Be it happenstance or not, sometimes that storm that you went through brought you back to life. Paradoxically and without your expecting it, by pulling yourself together after some hurt and a great pain, you are calmer than ever.

“True pain, the kind that makes us suffer profoundly, sometimes makes even an impulsive man serious and constant; even the poor of spirit become more intelligent after great pain”

-Fyodor Dostoyevsky-

The storms that transform us

If life were flat and easy, it would not be life. If everyone in the world was the same and wanted the same things, human relationships would be empty and there would be no reason to fight and overcome challenges. Even in a society filled with justice and equality, something marvelous that we all long for…conflicts would still come about.

Woman Riding Horse

Instability is in the very nature that surrounds us and in the very nature of human beings. Not knowing how to tolerate ambiguity, uncertainty, and conflict is a fruitful fertilizer for suffering from psychological disorders. The myth of stability in our lives is just that: a myth.

If we are aware of this fact, we will be prepared and aware that sudden changes and painful experiences are possible. Prepared and aware, never trained: this is how we can learn to cope with the good and the bad things that happen to us.

The Kintsugi metaphor

Sometimes when we have gone through a painful situation or period, we believe that the most convenient thing is to put our pieces back together in the best possible way, believing that they always have to fit in order to hide our scars.

We want to move forward at all costs, unharmed by the pain that we just went through and we associate turning the page and being strong with not showing signs of weakness. 

Western culture has a lot to learn from what eastern philosophies teach us about this: Pain does not have any reason to be hidden; we must not associate the lack of pain with the maintenance of our self-esteem. Having gone through a difficult situation and overcome it is a sign of pride and beauty.

Sad Japanese Woman

When the Japanese repair broken objects, they praise the damaged area by filling the cracks with gold. They believe that when something has suffered damage and has a history, it becomes more beautiful.

The traditional Japanese art of repairing broken ceramics with a strong adhesive, then sprayed with gold dust, is known as Kintsugi. The result is that the ceramic object is not only repaired, but it is also stronger than the original.

Instead of trying to hide the cracks and defects, they are accentuated and celebrated, for now they have become the strongest part of the piece. Kintsukoroi is the Japanese term that describes the art of repairing with gold or silver lac, understanding that the object is more beautiful from having been broken.

The idea is that when something valuable is broken, we should not hide its fragility or its imperfection, but rather should repair it with something that shows the virtues of gold: strength, service, virtue…

Big emotional storms bring something new

We cannot know what an emotional storm represents in our lives until we have completely escaped it. There are even storms that show up time and time again, and do not completely disappear until we have managed to face them and find shelter, assuming that the storm clouds will always appear, just like the sunshine will.

Once again, nature teaches us its true lesson: nothing is unchangeable and everlasting, no matter how calm and beautiful something may appear. Changes are the only rule that seems to always be fulfilled.

“And once the storm is over, you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about.”

-Haruki Murakami-

Man Holding Umbrella for Woman

So the next time a storm comes, it is normal for you to be afraid…despite this, try to stand your ground. If it knocks you over and bruises you, do not take that pain with a passive or masochistic attitude, take it with a conscious and selective one.

The little details are the ones that can reveal many things to you about yourself, which you can use in the future. Maybe all of those little bruises have shown you who and what have been hurting you.

At the end of the day, there are storms that are inevitable in this life. So once you are already in them, let them drench you and maybe you will come out with cleaner ideas or new ideas that bring you back to life.

Images courtesy of Nathalia Suellen and Fairy Tales