When you’re in the midst of a storm in life – some difficulty, confusion, fear, or uncertainty – it’s easy to imagine that something must have gone terribly wrong.
After all, aren’t you meant to be successful? Aren’t you meant to be on top of life? Aren’t you meant to be in control? To have it all figured out by now?
And if you’re in trouble isn’t it clear that it’s your fault?
The narrative of personal striving and personal success that so many of us have taken up as the benchmark for our lives doesn’t help here. It’s too individualistic, too solitary. It assumes you have infinite power to shape your life. And that your success or failure, your happiness or your despair are down to you alone. It’s not a big enough story to account for the kind of difficulty you’re in, to account for being a participant in a world that is so mysterious and so much bigger than you are.
No, there’s a bigger, more generous account of finding yourself in life’s storm that goes far beyond blame and fault, far beyond success and failure. Haruki Murakami has found the words to express it beautifully and clearly, in his Kafka On The Shore:
“Sometimes fate is like a small sandstorm that keeps changing directions. You change direction but the sandstorm chases you. You turn again, but the storm adjusts.
Over and over you play this out, like some ominous dance with death just before dawn. Why? Because this storm isn’t something that blew in from far away, something that has nothing to do with you.
This storm is you. Something inside of you. So all you can do is give in to it, step right inside the storm, closing your eyes and plugging up your ears so the sand doesn’t get in, and walk through it, step by step…”
But the storm will pass, he assures us, and once it is over:
“You won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure, in fact, 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.”