Are we driven by the prospect of a happy ending? Is that what keeps us going, despite the crap that keeps flying at us? Is this an intrinsic human survival mechanism that keeps us from being extinct?
In 1997, I resembled Jamal in 'Slumdog Millionaire' after he took a dive in the sewer in order to get his Bollywood idol's autograph - I was covered in sh*t. Not literally, but metaphorically, I was up to my eyeballs in it.
I was studying wine marketing full time at university (fun but fraught with danger of 'overdoing it' in the tasting department). I held three jobs. I was learning to be an announcer and disc jockey (I love that word) at a local community radio station. I was hosting professional wine master classes twice a month. I partied every weekend operating on two hours sleep. I had recently separated from a five year relationship and in the shaky beginnings of a new one. And to top it all off, a very close and beloved family member was diagnosed with terminal, inoperable cancer.
After several visits to my doctor complaining of extended PMS (pre menstrual syndrome for readers who haven't come into contact with it - lucky you) I was given the diagnosis: clinical depression.
What followed was months and months (and months) of a terrible battle, which took place at the bottom of my emotional cesspit. I refer to this period as my 'Dark Ages'. Even now those days merge into one murky memory that's best described as sludge. While I cannot be clear on what happened when or with whom, I do remember one thing - my light at the end of my tunnel.
My light was someone very close to me and my family who suffered a mental illness. I have vague memories of this jolly giant whom I looked up to with awe and pure love. I was always greeted with surprise lollies (candy), which my little hands would dig out of a deep pocket.
When I was five, something horrible happened; that beautiful light was extinguished. What's worse, is that their warming glow was taken from us by their own hand. Even at such a young age I could feel the tragic sense of loss. The impact and devastation was clear, it was palpable.
In my darkest hours (there were many of them), I would remember my wonderful jolly giant - my light at the end of my tunnel. If I couldn't go on for me, then I had to go on for someone other than me. I had to create a purpose greater than myself that made it worth the effort to keep going. I could not allow my loved one's flame to be extinguished in vain. And so, despite my compromised mental state, I deemed that my life was worth saving for theirs.
Whether we care to admit it or not, most of us like real-life happy endings. Perhaps it's a reminder to us all that no matter what challenges we face, we can rise above adversity. Searching for a light at the end of the tunnel is the hope we seek to make our trials and tribulations endurable and worthwhile. So if you are (or someone you know is) having a dark moment - ask yourself, who is the light at the end your tunnel?
Until tomorrow, may your light continue to shine.