“This is not the end of me,
This is the beginning.
I am still alive.”
I Believe, 2013
He was a new friend of mine. We had a class together, hung out at a few parties, and I’d helped him on a paper at the campus computer lab. So when he asked me to go out with some of his friends late one night, I thought, ‘Why not?’ It would be fun to hang out with a different crowd than usual.
We played pool at a downtown pub for a few hours, and then headed back to campus. We’d just entered the mile-long entrance to the college when the unexpected happened. The driver of the vehicle announced he would be turning off the headlights “for fun.”
Even in the light of day this particular road was quite difficult to maneuver. I’d always chosen the back entrance due to this particular road’s narrow shoulder and dangerous curves.
I could feel the car escalating to a higher elevation with every sharp bend. Although I could not see the drop off that plummeted into a deep ravine, I knew it was there. One wrong turn of the wheel would change everything.
I desperately wanted say, “Okay man, that’s enough,” or “C’mon, turn the lights back on,” but I could not speak. I was paralyzed in the backseat, gripping the door handle so tightly that it felt like my fingernails were bleeding. As the wind blew my hair back with a powerful force, it dawned on me that my window was open. That’s the moment I began plotting and planning my survival.
I decided that if the driver would take the curve too fast and lose control, I would jump out the open window. Then I would hang onto the edge of that steep incline with all my strength. I imagined myself being discovered at daybreak by my favorite English professor heading to her office to start her day. There I would be, hanging on, my fingernails filled with dirt.
As the driver continued swerving this way and that way into pitch-black nothingness, I prayerfully repeated my plan: Jump. Hang on. Dig your nails into the earth and don’t let go. Don’t let go. It is not your time to go.
Over the past six months, I’ve thought more about that terrifying ride than I ever have in my life. That dark, windy road has been working its way into my dreams. Several life stressors this fall have left me feeling anxious, frustrated, disheartened, and confused. When I fall asleep thinking about a particular worry, those are the nights the road comes into play. Interestingly, this recurring dream is not a nightmare. Nor is it a good dream with a happy ending. In fact, there is no ending. I always wake up before it is over, but one thing is for certain: I always feel comforted by it.
I can feel the dirt under my nails.
I can feel myself hanging on for dear life.
The fears I face don’t seem so bad the morning after I’ve been on that dark, windy road and survived to tell about it.
A few weeks ago I noticed that a writer friend of mine was going through a string of unfortunate events. When I reached out to her, she confided in me that in addition to the personal issues her family was facing, she’d received several rejection letters in regard to her recently completed novel. As I was about to express my support and concern, she added that whenever she got the rejection notices, she said something to herself that renewed her hope.
It was these two words: “Rachel believes.”
Little did I know that by declaring myself this woman’s #1 fan the first time I read her writing and consistently supporting her endeavors, I would one day enable her to hang on when she found herself wondering if she should give up.
It was not her time to go. I had the ability to remind her of that. I had the ability to point out the dirt beneath her fingernails that she might’ve otherwise missed. I had the ability to remind her that she was strong … talented … and the world needed her words.
And so I have. And my friend continues to send out query letters until she receives one yes. After all, one yes is all she needs. My friend and I have already talked about how we will celebrate her determination … her tenacity … her ability to hang on.
Because 2015 was hard for many, many people.
For you, it might be going down as one of the worst years you can remember.
For you, it may have brought you to your knees more times than you could count.
For you, it may have left you breathless … hopeless … tired and weary.
But before you eagerly slam the door on 2015, I ask you to look down at your hands.
My friend, that is beautiful. That is remarkable. That is significant.
You could have let go. But you didn’t.
You could have given up. But you didn’t.
You hung on.
You hung on.
And here’s what I believe:
I believe 2015 was not your worst year, but possibly your greatest.
Your Year of Greatest Strength
Your Year of Greatest Faith
Your Year of Greatest Hope
Your Year of Greatest Patience
Your Year of Greatest Risk
Your Year of Greatest Determination
Your Year of Greatest Courage
Just look at that dirt beneath your fingernails.
That is what you are made of.
Isn’t it beautiful? Isn’t it remarkable? Isn’t it significant?
It was your Year of Greatest Survival.
And you lived to tell about it.
Thank you for holding on.
Let us celebrate.
Let us celebrate.
The light overcame the darkness.
As I wrote this piece, a dozen faces came to mind. Several dear friends of mine have survived a very tough year. I am going to share this piece with them to let them know I see how much they have overcome. If you know someone who has hung on triumphantly, I’d be grateful if you shared this post.
In the spirit of celebration, there is FREE domestic shipping on all the beautiful items in the Hands Free Shop today (December 17, 2015) through December 21, 2015. Use this discount code: STOCKING. International orders can use the code for a discount on their shipping costs. Also, the super comfy & stylish LIVE HANDS FREE vintage t-shirts are reduced to $10 during this same time period. Domestic orders placed before Saturday, December 20 are expected to arrive by December 24th, but cannot be guaranteed. I’d be honored if you considered the prints or the bracelets as gifts to express your love & appreciation or to use as visual reminders for how you want to live in 2016.
Thank you, friends of The Hands Free Revolution, for being part of this incredibly supportive community seeking to let go of distraction & perfection to live more & love more today! You are my daily blessing.