Nice of You to Join Me, Discouragement

When I’m stepping forward through life, it seems as though a devious being, itching to become my travel companion, only exists to magically make some type of boulder appear or to puncture holes in the ground or something else that’s malicious. It was only recently that I became aware that this certain companion goes by the name of…discouragement.

It’s obvious where I’m going with this, so try to follow me–or, er, don’t–depending on how cautious of a traveler you are. And I’m not the only person who has been annoyed by the possibility of discouragement (Guess what? It clones itself!), but I want to air my perception of it after a recent experience.

To me, discouragement appears to be a like an art. While that very statement may be interpreted as vague and baffling, I cannot view it through any other lens. In honor of my lovely guest, I’ll use the above traveling example to convey my ideology the best way I know how. Cue the wind chimes and harp ’cause it’s short story time:

Knowing already that discouragement was going to come happily skipping along, the invite was not given  and I came as prepared as I knew how to be. Equipment in backpack, shoelaces tied and eyes gazing toward haze-free dawn, I pulled out a map (no, not GPS), only to find that the ink in my pen bled and splotched out my trail (unlikely, but just go with it). “Darn it all,” I thought. A thought follows, “Now what?” Then, ten seconds later, “Oh, yeah! I’ve got my compass!” Approaching a wooded area with all kinds of coves and thorny brush, I pulled out the device. I may not have any pictorial directions, but at least this’ll prevent going in circles…or at least I thought. Thump. It dropped and rolled off in the brush somewhere. “Darn it all,” I thought. “Now what?” With no other alternatives to utilize, I slouched under a tree. Light footsteps approached from behind, along with the most evil echoed laugh reachable to human ears, and then came that dreaded boulder. Discouragement. 

Only one clap? Meh, okay. 

The point is that one would think that at least one of the two (map or compass) would have allowed me to take another guided step, even though the presence of discouragement is nearly inevitable. Nonetheless, what the story did not relate was that all was not lost. 

My view is not the same–dust off your pants–wipe your tears–kiss a charm–and hope for better–attitude that was drilled in primary school. That seems to sometimes summon an ultra-inauthentic persona to emerge in people, by pretending that they’re not even the least bit broken within that moment of defeat. I believe that it’s healthy to relish in the woe for a while. Become engulfed. It’s human to climb levels of comfort through sulking. My aim is not to suggest that discouragement should dominate; instead, it’s better to not pretend like it’s not possible to one day emerge to, ugh, try to be one’s companion. It happens. 

The next time discouragement attempts to be my buddy on another winding road of life, I’ll turn toward it, firmly shake its hand and say, “Hello, Discouragement. And with an equally devilish grin, “Nice of you to join me.”


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