If You Are Going Through Hell, Keep Going
When I was recently in Portugal, I went on a tour of Quinta da Regaleira, the castle-like estate that seemed to appear out of a fairytale.
Classified by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, this man-made wonder fascinates with its Gothic architecture, lush gardens, hidden waterfalls, underground grottoes, and secret passageways.
Interestingly, what attracted my attention the most was the well that contained a striking 27-meter spiral staircase leading into total darkness.
The 9 landings of the staircase take you to what seems to be a dead-end, and only when you reach the bottom, you can see an opening in the wall. Then, for a good 5 minutes, you walk below the ground through the dark, labyrinth-like tunnel until you reach a refreshing waterfall, step into daylight and find yourself in a pretty garden.
We Must face The Darkness
The journey through the well represents a death/rebirth allegory beautifully. When I left Quinta da Regaleira, I couldn’t help but think that our life is somewhat a sequence of mini-deaths and rebirths, yet often we’re so afraid to step into the unknown that we get stuck… resisting… hurting… holding on to people, places or beliefs that are not good for us anymore.
Yet when we are brave enough to face the darkness and travel through the unknown, we always come out stronger and happier on the other side.
Sometimes our rebirth experiences come as the result of conscious search for a better, more fulfilling life. More often than not, they come when we least expect them – in the form of a broken heart, business losses, bad accidents, health issues, and other challenges that life throws at us.
Some of these experiences break us into a million pieces and we might even question the very point of our existence. Personally, I found myself in a very dark place just a few years ago, and getting through to the other side was not easy…
It’s Only When We Look Back, We can Connect the Dots
However, it’s only when we look back, we can connect the dots, and when we look closely, we notice that every time we pick up the broken pieces, we create a better, wiser version of ourselves.
If you’re sailing through a great period of your life, I invite you to give yourself massive credit for the hard work and personal growth you’ve done to arrive here.
If you’re doing well but you know that you can do a lot better, might now be a good time to look into what you don’t want to look into? Might now be a good time to do what (deep down) you know you should do, and make commitments that might be uncomfortable yet take you to the next level?
And if you’re in a tough spot, well… there is light at the end of the tunnel. As Winston Churchill put it, “If you’re going through hell, keep going!”
Life always unfolds outward and upward, and what seems like hell now can be an invaluable milestone because all pain that we experience contains the seed of our evolution.
Just remember to be kind to yourself.