Guest post by Rochel Spangenthal
The sharp words flash on the computer screen. Taunting me.
Game over… Game over… Game over…
As if once wasn’t enough.
That’s it. I have no other choice. I must begin again.
After all of my sweat and toil. My shouts of joy and rage as my knuckles turned white on the controller. My internet searches of cheat codes. Nothing had helped. I still landed right here. Sitting in front of a black screen. The only things that remain are those two final words.
And with a groan, I return from a restroom break, click ‘New Game’, and ready myself for another go. Because defeat is not an option.
Game Over is Rock Bottom. It’s when you lose your job. It’s when your debt becomes unmanageable. It’s when you are evicted from your space in a meaningful relationship.
It’s when your emotions begin to shut down as a subconscious protective measure and your friends gather around you and awkwardly murmur comforting words. Words about moving on and new beginnings.
And perhaps there is a New Beginning lying in wait. But New Beginnings have a sort of ugliness to them. They indicate that you have been ripped away from an old ending.
And don’t you hate the ends of things?
The end of a friendship, the end of a hug, the end slice of a loaf of bread.
It is permanent. It is final. It is stale.
And the only thing more feared than Rock Bottom is that moment right before your New Beginning.
This is a moment of absolute nothingness. When you’re not even sure if you exist. When you’re uncertain as to which way is forward. When you have to pray to G-d or to the universe or to your ancestors to give you the strength to rise from your bed in the morning.
Because you can’t do it alone. You just can’t.
It is when you struggle to fill your lungs with desperately needed air. When the salt of your tears are constantly upon your tongue and the unsung regrets and ‘what if’s are forever heard echoing in your mind.
When the world lies before you and you are at a loss of what to do, and the only option left is to follow the wind.
And hour by hour, you survive. Between two states of existence. Between the epilogue of your first book and the title page of your sequel. In that place where there is nothing. Nothing but a shadow of faith.
And somehow, you make it through the first day. And then you make it through the second. And without noticing, you have made it through a week.
And it is in this moment – the moment of utter hopelessness and suspension – that you are reborn. A strength is revealed in you that you never knew you had. And you let go in order to move forward.
It is in this moment that you tap into who you really are.
I know all about this moment. This moment is the day after I saw my mother fighting for her life when I was 12. It is the week after I left home at the age of 13 to go to boarding school. It is the month after my broken engagement.
It is terrifying, it is real. But you know that you can do it. You know that you must do it. That you must climb once again. That your life must continue despite your internal turmoil.
Once, famed Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel was offered a blessing by the Lubavitcher Rebbe. Mr. Wiesel lost his entire family in the holocaust. When asked what he would like to be blessed with, Mr. Wiesel hesitated.
“Would you like me to bless you so that you can begin again?” The Rebbe asked.
Elie Wiesel records in his memoirs, ‘I appreciated his wisdom. To begin again could mean many things: begin again to drink, to pray, to believe, to live.’
A New Beginning takes courage. It takes persistence.
It takes a warrior.
It requires that you fight your way through the debris of your emotions and blink your eyes in the harsh light of a new day. But a New Beginning means that your state of non-existence is over.
And your story goes on. You commence the journey in the sequel book of your life. You are beginning with more wisdom, more skill, and more empathy than you had before. And there are going to be many more chapters in this book.
And you click ‘New Game’ and with a trained eye and wise heart, begin again.
But better this time.
It will be better.