Jake’s home town was at times gorgeous and at others a little miserable. On sunny days, a smile would appear on everyone’s faces. People would be happy to stop and chat on the street. When the weather was inclement, the town took on a dark and dingy feel. The buildings were grey, forbidding, and seemed to grow an extra storey or two, looming over the residents like a scary teacher watching over his students.
Today, the town had a friendly, welcoming feel, which is to say that it was sunny and warm and Jake was sitting drinking coffee enjoying the view, watching the sun glisten off the water in the bay. Breaking his reverie Helen dropped into the seat beside him. “Do you mind?”, she asked.
He hadn’t known her long, since he had met her community centre where she was a part time counsellor. She was perhaps in her early forties but had a youthful exuberance about her that made her seem younger than she really was.
She had a ‘happy to see you smile’ on her face. How did she do that? She always seemed in a good mood and pleased to see him. Why? he was a nobody, a nobody who was lucky to be alive.
Yet despite his sometimes unwelcoming, grumpy attitude she was always interested in what he was up to, what his plans were.
He’d been looking for work for a while now, but it hadn’t been going well. He was constantly fighting the fear that depression, or rather despair, would again reach into his heart and soul if things didn’t work out soon.
Helen had a way of gently drawing things out of him and so after nodding politely and asking her to join him he found himself telling her about the incident that had happened a few months ago and about how he was worried about his state of mind since that day.
That ‘incident’, as he called it, where he had finally decided to end it all, he had found a quiet road to do the deed when a voice out of the blue had told him not too.
He’d gone through this story with Helen before of course, in the counselling meeting he’d had with her. But he found himself describing it all again, and without warning tears slipped unwanted from his eyes.
Quickly putting his sunglasses back on, he dropped his head to hide his embarrassment. Helen just sat there with a sympathetic smile on her face, not saying anything and nor condemning either.
Jake couldn’t remember exactly what the guy leaning out of his window had said but it had stopped him doing what he had planned. The pistol he’d stolen from a friend had been left lying in the dirt, forgotten.
“Do you believe in fate?”, Jake croaked through his emotions. He was thinking again about that moment and the guy who interfered with his plans.
Helen seemed to give full consideration to his question but answered, “Well, I believe that things can happen in our lives for a reason and that it is just our reaction to these events that determine our futures. Is that what you mean?”
“But how do you explain the guy leaning out of his window then?”, he pressed. “When I think about it, it strikes me as odd”.
“Good question!”, she smiled, a strange enthusiasm spreading across her features. “I think we are all somehow connected in this wonderful universe of ours. Perhaps the universe wasn’t done with you just yet? Maybe there is something you need to do, something you need to achieve?”.
She paused, but seemed to be preparing to say more so Jake waited.
“Look, I can’t claim to know how the universe works, it’s just an idea I have that what we are made of is somehow inextricably linked with everything else. I also think that the universe somehow knows when people have a purpose in life, a goal. People with desire to do more. To have success. I don’t think that this interconnectedness is a sentient thing but more a driving force, carrying us forward. Something that wants to grow and develop.”
“That doesn’t explain my situation though does it? I was about to take my life! I had no plan, no purpose, no desire. I just can’t see it and if I’m honest I’m struggling to understand what I’m supposed to do.”, Jake grimaced and dropped his head again.
“What if you have something inside you that needs to achieve, to find its place in life where it is happy and fulfilled? When we are down or suffering from depression, this candle light inside us is hard to see. Maybe it is there inside you but you can’t see it because your thoughts are full of lack of hope, negativeness and sadness?”
Jake paused for a few moments. Looking for an answer that wouldn’t come, so asked out loud, “So how can I find that candle light? How do you do it? You seem so happy with your life and what you are doing!”
“I think the better question would be ‘How can you do it?'”, she replied, accentuating the ‘you’. “What is it you need to do right now to put you on the right path?”
“I have no clue”, sadness again creeping into his voice.
Their conversation continued for a while on to other things, the scenery, the beautiful weather they were having, what Helen was doing for her upcoming family holiday; small talk, but somehow healing, pushing the tears away a little.
Finally, Helen got up to go but leaned towards him to quietly say, “If you are going through hell, keep going!”