A person very close to me had a crash a couple years ago. She likes to call it a meltdown but others would probably call it a nervous breakdown. They would say she went over the deep end, snapped, lost it. Call it what you want, but essentially, she hit rock bottom. It seemed that love, life, genetics and a chemical imbalance all conspired to put her in a place of total darkness and despair.
It didn’t happen overnight. Looking back now she can see that she was in a downward spiral for years. She didn’t realize that each time she took a blow, she fell further and further in to a mental hell. She thought she was tough and invincible; nothing would ever bring her down. All of that was forgotten when the final blow came.
She says it was like in an instant, she was hurled in to a deep, dark cave. The cold hard truth was the ground beneath her. Everywhere she turned, she found nothing but a dark emptiness. Like a child, she climbed into bed, hoping she could hide under the covers and keep the bogey man away. But the bogey man was in her head, and the mind, she says, is a terrible place to be trapped.
Hiding under the covers, demons screaming in her head, she cried to God, “Please take me.” But He must not have been listening or He didn’t want her just then. As she strained to hear God’s call, other voices started coming in whispers; the voices of her children, her mother, her family and her friends. “We love you, we need you, please come back.”
Then she heard another voice. This time it was her voice. She heard herself speaking her mantra, “Take action.” Time and time again, she had encouraged others when they were down to “take action”. Now it was time to practice what she had preached.
When she did decide to try, her first major action was to crawl out of bed and into the shower. It was all she could do, then, back to hiding under the covers. Slowly she started venturing farther from her self-imposed darkness. When she finally found the courage to step outdoors, she was lost. Everything seemed so foreign and unfamiliar. She didn’t know what to do or where to go. Knowing her only options were to take action or fall back into the darkness, she slowly put one foot in front of the other and literally just wandered in circles around her yard, still lost.
Gradually she found herself doing small chores. Maybe it was just picking up a tree branch that fell on the grass or taking the trash. Soon, after she accomplished one small task, she found herself looking around and saying, “That was easy, what else can I do?”
It didn’t happen overnight, but eventually the darkness turned to light. There were still days when she had the fleeting thought to beg God again to take her. There were many days when it seemed like the world still wanted to knock her down. Some days it seemed like there were people in line, just waiting to kick her butt, and they usually did it first thing in the morning to assure her day was ruined.
But she kept that forward momentum going and today she thanks God for not taking her. She loves life. She loves her life. She knows she has a purpose and hopes to be around for a long time.
I compare the situation this country is in to my friend’s crash; a long slow decline to desperation and despair. I’m not sure America has hit rock bottom yet, but perhaps she is close.
Maybe we should pretend she is at rock bottom. Then we Americans will know there is no place to go but up. We will stop asking ourselves, “What’s the next bad news going to be?” Instead we will say “Take Action!”
I believe there is hope for this great nation. But I don’t believe it is up to our President and Congress to save her. I believe it is up to each and every American to take action. To climb out from under the covers and put one foot in front of the other and start the forward momentum.
I believe President Kennedy was right in his speech when he said, “Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.” But I believe he left it too broad, too overwhelming, for the average mind to comprehend. How can I, one person, save a whole country?
I believe every American can and should contribute to society. I believe this country’s downfall came when people started thinking more about themselves than they do of others. Greed and selfishness caused the crisis we are in. People became wrapped up in their own problems and forgot to take care of their family, their neighbors, their communities and their country.
So you ask, “What can I do?”
Today you can do a good deed for someone. It may be as simple as helping an elderly lady across the street or reading to a child. After you have completed that simple task, you can look around you and say, “That was easy, now what else can I do?” and so on and so forth, one small forward step at a time.
There are reasons that the old adages like “One good turn deserves another” and “It is better to give than to receive” are still around. They are time-tested and true.
When you help someone else it comes back to you, usually in ways you never dreamed of. If you are one of the hundreds of thousands of people who lost their job, take action. Volunteer your time at a school, hospital or nursing home. Someone will see you volunteering and say “That is the kind of person I want on my payroll.” To the person who is at rock bottom; “Take Action.” Someone will see you and say, “I want to help that man who helps himself.” When you are the receiver of a good deed, pay it forward.
Just as evil begets more evil, good begets more good, but it all starts within your heart. Start a grassroots effort in your life, your home and your community. It will spread across the country like an epidemic. In time, others will see it working and they will want to join in. Remember, a rising tide raises all ships.
This country will rise from rock bottom if you ask yourself every day, “What can I do today to be an American worth dying for?”
Copyright 2009 Lorraine Melgosa