I laid down on the grass and stared up at the sky. Above me, in all its glory, was the entire universe. It was the first time I had truly witnessed a night sky without light pollution. Every star seemed to take a new form, constellations danced, and shooting stars whispered across the horizon. I stared mesmerized for what seemed like an eternity—but was probably no more than a few minutes. In that short time, the memory of that sky stayed with me.
Years later, I found myself standing outside on a dark, overcast evening. I was battling with thoughts of doubt and anxiety, my mind as muddled and gray as the sky that swirled above. Although my eyes were trained on the clouds, my thoughts wandered to my failures and all the battles that seemed hopeless. Then suddenly, against all odds, I saw the swift drip of a shooting star through a tiny opening in the clouds. Despite all observable evidence, the sky still shone above. My mind was thrown back to that night where the universe was laid out in front of me. My thoughts no longer felt so heavy. Admittedly, it was temporary; the next morning I still warred with my own heart. But that one moment, that one reminder, gave me a small oasis in a desert of fear.
I wish our doubts and fears made sense. I wish they would listen to the logic shown in the love of our friends and family. I wish they could be laid to rest with the simple knowledge that there is someone out there who cares. But they don’t, and they can’t. If I could erase the lies my mind tells me, I would. What I can do however, is find hope in the tiny oases around me.
These oases show themselves in shooting stars, in the wag of a dog’s tail, and in the smile of a stranger. They are the 3 A.M. conversations with friends that leave you feeling loved in new ways. They are comforting jokes in the midst of mourning. They are whatever brings out the laugh lines on your beautiful face. And they are not hard to find, just hard to look for.
Even during my darkest days, I was surrounded by these oases. Looking back, I can recognize moments where hope presented itself, but I refused to acknowledge it. It’s difficult, seemingly impossible even, to put yourself in a mindset to spot these drops of hope when anxiety, depression, and our doubts are running wild. Because that’s what they do: They tell us that hope is not there, that the clouds are all that exist of a sky on an overcast night. And although they lie, we buy it hook, line, and sinker.
But as humans, we possess an ability and a charge to be what brings others into their oasis of hope. We can do our best to understand, to highlight the beauty in the world that people may no longer see, and beyond that, we can love and hope ourselves. Because hope is ever present so long as we continue to be hope for one another.
For those of you who are struggling in this moment, I ask that you don’t give up on finding your oases. They are no cure, but it is much easier to fight your battles in the sun than in the rain. And even when you find your oasis, know that there will still be days when the sun is out of sight, where not even a sliver of hope is to be found—and that’s OK.
For those of you who know someone struggling—be an oasis. And if they don’t see you as one, be patient and understanding. They must find hope on their own terms, but that’s doesn’t mean you can’t continue to show it.