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Can’t Sleep? Count Your Blessings

Posted: September 12, 2020

“Could it be that easy? Could the answer to all of life’s questions be summarised in a handful of words?”

Who would have thought that a quote on a message board outside a tiny church in Cuffe Parade would remain with me through a entire decade of my life?

I was aboard a bus to Churchgate station in the early morning hours of the warm month of May. I remember the month because a friends birthday was approaching. He had recently left for US to pursue further studies along with a few of my friends, and I missed him terribly.

I looked out of the bus window and happened to glance at a message board bearing the quote – “Can’t sleep? Count your blessings.” I remember a feeling in the pit of my stomach. I quickly typed out the quote on my mobile phone and sent it out to my friend. I wanted to share this piece of wisdom I had chanced upon so unexpectedly. Could it be that easy? Could the answer to all of life’s questions be summarised in a handful of words? 

Since that day in the bus, I have tried to live my life in accordance with these words. Through the innumerable tragedies of life, the hurdles of growing up, through heartbreaks and depression, I have clung on to these words like a drowning person clinging on to their dear life.

 

Not all days are easy

It hasn’t always been easy. At times life seemed to comprise of only pain and loss and there didn’t seem to be any blessings to count. At other times, I didn’t want to believe in blessings of any kind.

It was excruciating to even bother to put in the energy required to wade across just one more day. There are hundreds perhaps millions of people out there who have experienced this.

People who have busied away their days in house chores and meaningless distractions, only to find themselves staring up at the ceiling at night. Lying wide awake,unable to put themselves and their fears to rest. Nights are difficult. They leave us all alone with our deepest fears and monsters under our beds? How then, is one supposed to sleep?

 

Uncertainty and what it brings

Through the years, I have realised that the periods which involved restlessness,insomnia and anxiety were the times when I was going through life altering changes.

What I didn’t know at the time was that in moments like these, there is bound to be internal strife. Confusion, anxiety, hopelessness, apathy, are only side-effects of the immense transformation happening within us. Things we took for granted, ideologies we unquestioningly believed in, may shatter.

The walls of facts and beliefs that we built around ourselves may come crashing down. Our worlds are being transformed by new experiences, ideas and knowledge. Change leaves us feeling rudderless and untethered. What we do not realise is that these are only consequences of the eternal and ever present fear of the unknown.

What would we be left with, if our habits and beliefs were taken away? These things create some semblance of order and control over the path that our life takes, helping us navigate through the countless uncertainties of our existence.

When this order is disrupted and the reins of our life are wrestled away from our hands, we are bound to feel terrorised. The moment we realise a loss of control is when change begins. The protective cover of our comfort zones crack open and the tiny seedling of growth begins to push past the dirt to breath fresh air.  

Every period of change or growth in our lives features these feelings, over and over again. The feeling that we will not make it, that this hurdle or that tragedy is our impending doom, sure to cause our downfall.

And then, all of a sudden, without knowing, we somehow find ourselves standing at the other end of the tunnel. The sleepless nights and terrifying days seem to have come to an abrupt end and we find ourselves stronger, changed, grown.

 

Hope as a life-vest

The most important  thing we need to remember through these periods is to keep at it and to not give up. This is where the words of the message board out side the church come to our rescue. 

When we step out of our comfort zone willingly or are thrust out to brave the winds unexpectedly, our minds and bodies seize up with adrenaline. We experience stress as a living entity that leeches on our strength and resolve. This is why in times of confusion and anxiety,  it is important to take courage in the fact that life is filled with love and hope; blissful, unfaltering, eternal hope.

When we find ourselves drowning in despair or clamoring for a single breath of air, we need to take a step back. We need to take stock of the myriad miracles scattered all around us. We need to believe that this will be over before we know it. The tsunami of our fear will be water under the bridge. Soon, we will be so utterly thankful for not giving up, for taking that one last step forward, even when all seemed lost. 

This is what I have learned to do. Whenever I start panicking about the future or begin feeling an imminent fear of the unknown. When I find myself waking up at all hours of the night, unable to quieten the persistent voice of darkness within my mind.

In those times, I let the feelings wash over me like waves in the ocean and tell myself to not be afraid and to make my resolve stronger. I refuse to let my fears overpower my desire for growth and fulfillment. I take a deep breath, and count my blessings. 

 

Image source: Fotorech

A writer. A storyteller. A book lover. I am a voracious bookworm from a very

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