When the journey seems futile…

I know I’m not alone in feeling this way, as though all of my efforts have failed.  As though every single thing I have attempted to accomplish in my life has fallen short; it simply isn’t enough to get the job done.  As though my very tenacity and determination to continue are some sort of cosmic joke being played upon me and my psyche.  Like failure itself was written into my karma and destiny…

And when that feeling overwhelms me, and I am convinced I simply cannot try anymore, when everything within me seeks shelter from the never-ending storm, I crawl into bed and cry myself to sleep.  Hoping, and sometimes praying, that this journey will soon end for me…

But I wake up again.  Always.  Disappointed.  Discouraged.  Angry, even, at why this life won’t let me go!  And then…

Some time during that hopeless day, some thing will happen to get me back on track again.  It may be huge, or it may be some small thing, but I will smile in spite of my mood, I will laugh through the never-ending tears, and I will pick up my tools again and carry on…


Because I must…  A simple, but (for me, anyway) undeniable Truth…

Life sucks right now!  People (many) suck right now!  Innocents are dying, but most are suffering horribly first, which makes it so much worse!  Innocence itself cannot survive in the world we have created.  There is no light at the end of the tunnel, for darkness has taken hold of everything we see.  There is no savior coming for us to finally set us free.  There is no justice to be had, and nothing now is fair.  There is no hope in this reality.  And yet…

There are good people doing good things.  There are moments when we can feel alive again.  There is something we cannot see, compelling us to carry on.  For good or ill, we “keep on keeping on” (a favorite phrase of a blogging friend of mine).


I have a theory (of course I do!  Lol!), but I offer it today with a full awareness of how “wrong” it may be.  I seem to be operating blind these days, as previous posts have discussed.  All my life I have been blessed with insight that allows me to discern the “truth” of things, quite accurately.  I have become so dependent upon that ability that I do not question it anymore, which has proven itself to be a grave mistake of late.  Because these days, I am never right.  Big or small, important or not, the things that seem so clear to me have been proven false, and so I am completely out of the loop these days regarding peoples’ thoughts, actions, motivations or expectations.  It’s an uncomfortable place for me to be…

And when the blindness is complete, as it seems to be these days, I have always relied on sonar to see me through, affectionately referred to as “bat technology.”  I listen, carefully, and use what I hear to guide my next steps.  But my use of this technique is more tentative than the other, and so easily led astray by louder noises…

So I welcome the Silence when it arrives, even momentarily.  I notice when the noise abates, and there is only my own breath in my ears.  And I use those rare instants to reorient myself.  As I am doing now…

So, my theory…

I’ve heard it said that these days there are only two paths one can walk: service to others or service to self.  What you choose (and it is a choice) determines what is likely to happen to you.  I say these words with the least amount of judgment I can muster, though I acknowledge that some still exists; I personally believe that one is “better” than the other, though there is nothing truly backing that belief beyond wishful thinking…

Many (yes, many!) who believe themselves to be serving others are either deluding themselves unintentionally, or outright lying to themselves, for their actions say otherwise, repeatedly.  They are the first to preach the word of service while standing on others’ backs, pooping where they will, without regard to how that actually plays out in the world.

Those who admit to serving themselves appear to be quite empowered these days, achieving what they want/need at others’ expense, without guilt, shame or even deceit.  They think nothing of taking for themselves in a dog eat dog world, knowing no one else will put them first.  And there is a logic there that cannot be denied.  And an authenticity both harsh and refreshing…

But I believe there is another group operating beneath the awareness of those actively choosing their course.  They are the ones who simply act, and in doing so, support the others in their chosen roles.  They don’t feel they have a choice because their actions are simply a reflection of who they are, instinctive, reactive, spontaneous… yet always (I mean always!) benefitting someone else in the end…

I know you know someone like this.  They are the ones who stand in an arctic wind, shivering, holding the door open for two more minutes while a stranger struggles to get to the promised warmth.  The ones who hear someone quietly express a need, and step in to fill the void, without expectation of anything.  The ones who have already answered “yes” in their hearts when someone begins to say, “I need a favor…”

They are also the ones most often shit upon, taken advantage of, used up and tossed aside when all of their resources are gone.  You know this person; I know you do!  And we vacillate between calling them victims, weak, servile, and accepting them as angels, helpers, and personal saviors…

These people operate beneath the surface of everyday life, giving, losing, loving, regretting and sometimes resenting their lot in life.  Because yes, they have feelings, and needs themselves, but rarely the ability to ask for help.  And they are connected, like a giant safety net or web beneath the obvious everyday happenings.  And when one falters, quietly, the web reacts, shuffling resources, and pushing relief their way.  Because the safety net must not be allowed to falter.  And that is why we cannot quit!

Please note they do not serve because of low self-esteem, or a history of abuse, though many in modern society seem to want to believe that is the case.  Most of these people, that I personally know, have had difficult, even tragic lives.  But those lives developed around (perhaps because of) this innate need to give.  And when they have accepted this about themselves, they have discovered that their actions (in spite of all the consequences) are part of their integrity; they do not act to serve others, but they serve others as an authentic expression of themselves!

Allow me to repeat that: they do not act to serve others, but they serve others as an authentic expression of themselves!

And in so doing, they become some of the most confident, self-assured people I know…

So when the journey seems futile, and I fear I cannot give it anymore, I allow myself to fall apart, to express my “weakness,” even if only in the privacy of my own home and thoughts.  Because I know the web will readjust, and something will lift me up; the net will not falter or break because of me.  Because I know I am not alone…

And sometimes, that has to be enough!




58 thoughts on “When the journey seems futile…

    • I am doing well, thank you. And I understand that critical voice in your head that speaks fear directly into your heart. But when that voice speaks to me, I am always somehow reminded of that simple adage that true courage is not the absence of fear, but the willingness to act in spite of it. That usually keeps me going, in spite of the odds against me…

      Life is full of perfect moments, Andrew, short lived though they may be. Savor them, and you will always find the strength and courage to carry on…

      Sweet blessings for you and yours, dear friend!


  1. A powerful, gut-wrenching post. From whence comes self-fulfilment? From self empowerment. How is self-empowerment discovered? Through self-sacrifice. Speaking for myself, (and echoing some of your own thoughts) I live in a travesty of a society and civilization. I find little in it to enjoy, not because there aren’t things in it to enjoy but because of all the evil committed that simply ruins it all. Long ago as I struggled with suicidal despair over some kind of general darkness of mind, I looked at my options. I had the brains to get rich, and certainly the opportunities but I was not willing to accept the compromises. I could have opted out with pot, booze and other drugs but I’d seen what it did to those who went there. So I took my religion apart to find the kernel of truth in it. I decided to give myself up to compassionate interaction through self-sacrifice. I was very naive at first and predictably I did lose everything I owned. But I had expected that! I wasn’t caught unawares to feel sorry for myself, I was too busy doing things for others. Then with good management it started coming back to me, in a Job like way. (That’s Job the biblical guy, not a job as in work!) That’s where I got the idea that compassion is a force, or power, not a virtue. If you work with it, it will in turn work for you. There’s only one requirement: you have to give your entire life to “it” – and never look back. Then it gives you the “passion” that is in its nature.
    The world is worse now than when I began giving to it but I never did it with any expectations. No one ever owed me anything, or owes me anything. There’s power in that. As you say, “And in so doing, they become some of the most confident, self-assured people I know…”

    Liked by 2 people

    • I admit to sometimes feeling sorry for myself, as this post clearly expresses. But every time I try to imagine living/being differently, I fail miserably. I can logically deduce ways to “protect” myself, to grasp what situations are ultimately harmful or unfulfilling, yet when I try to act differently, I find the consequences worse somehow. So when people ask me why I continue helping, knowing how it will likely end up, I can only answer, “because I have to live with me.”

      And really, isn’t that what it comes down to? I may be serving others, to my own detriment at times, but I would still “choose” to do so, because anything less would not be true to me! It’s a matter of integrity. This is who I am, and (for the most part, anyway), I am okay with that; I honestly wouldn’t want to be any other way. And so I act, immediately, impulsively. I give, spontaneously. Even knowing I will never know real comfort or security. But somehow, I will always get exactly what I need…

      I am, in essence, serving myself by serving others, regardless of the consequences in doing so…

      Liked by 1 person

      • That’s what true givers discover and probably why they keep on doing it. It is, or becomes, one’s nature. That doesn’t mean it’s always right – I had to teach myself balance in the process so as not to be eaten alive. I don’t “feed” users because “using” isn’t in my nature either. I don’t and won’t, for example, support drug addicts by giving them money; they’d have to change first, that’s their part of the deal. Just a small example of common sense in the world of reaching out… If the people I would help are not willing to help themselves, that’s just “throwing good money after bad”.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Agreed. And there are obvious cases and times when I pull back out of common sense, and an instinct for self-preservation. But some “users” (aka repeat offenders) manage to get through, if only because my closeness to them precludes cutting them off entirely. I still draw the line at harmful (toward myself or themselves), because I refuse to encourage destructive or self-destructive behavior. But I remain a sucker for simple selfish acts and insincere gratitude, chalking it up to my need to give without expectation…


  2. We can’t save the world, but if we can “save” one person, our life will have been worthwhile. That thought is not original to me, but I believe making a difference in someone else’s life is the only way we can live at peace with ourselves (which is why narcissists can never be at peace with themselves)..

    Liked by 2 people

  3. This an exceptional post Lisa, taking us on a journey through anguish despair and hope you are to be congratulated for your courage, honesty and perseverance.
    Life is a struggle, with no fairness or level field. Justice takes a strange course, if any at all.
    We journey through trials and tribulations. History even shows that there is nothing new here; the arrogant would do well to learn the lesson that they always fall (some after their deaths, the supreme punishment for an egotist). Although History also warns us as a Species we would do well to pay more respect to this planet, but I digress.
    If we can say we made it through without harming someone for profit, advancement or out of malice, spite, ignorance or fear. If we can find just one day, when to quote Wellington after Battle of Waterloo we can say ‘By God. I do not think it would have done if I had not been there,’ If we can say ‘I kept on trying’. Then Lisa, that will be quite an achievement for most folk in this world.
    Enough small victories built on spirit, hope and compassion will at least give us all cause to not give up.
    Safe journeys, keep the lantern lit
    (And re-blogged!).

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you, dear friend, for the encouragement. You are right, of course. I know there are times and places I’ve been when my presence has made a positive difference. And I notice so many others in the shadows doing the same thing. I, myself, owe much to these givers who have carried me through many a hard day…

      I guess this post was, in part, about acknowledging those others who give so selflessly, so impulsively. For no matter how many times I witness such acts, I still remain awed by their ease and generosity. There is something truly remarkable about humanity at times, and I believe (or want to, anyway) that this community is growing…

      But even givers need hope and encouragement sometimes, and this post also addresses that reality. So we will “keep on keeping on” (your words immortalized here 😉 ), because we must…

      Much love coming your way!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi Lisa, you said in one of your comments above: “I admit to sometimes feeling sorry for myself, as this post clearly expresses.”
    I did not, and I do not, sense that your post indicated that you felt sorry FOR YOURSELF, but rather for the state of things in general. I think that your post expresses the deepest courage and yes, gutsiness! As Roger would say, keep on keeping on, you’re doing great and you are an encouragement to the rest of us, Lisa.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you, Sha’Tara. I gain much hope and strength knowing I am on the front lines with compassionate warriors like yourself. It is this knowing, this knowledge that I am not alone in the struggle, that gets me through some of my darkest days. And you have always been a burning bonfire in the distance that I look for when I need reminding. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Reblogged this on ~Burning Woman~ and commented:
    I first read this post and it brought tears to my eyes… I don’t know, the honesty of it, perhaps, they humanity of it, certainly. Then I read it again and commented, in a rather, I don’t know, stupid way – shallow, self-centered. So I read it again, and again. I saw that Roger at Woebegone but Hopeful reblogged it… so I read it again by going through his blog, and those words of Lisa Palmer kept gnawing at me. I’m reblogging it here, perhaps in the hope of seeing more comments on it. Maybe take a few minutes to read it, then let Lisa know what you make of it. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You know, there is one part of this comment I did not yet address, and I need to. I do not understand how you judge yourself here, because I see neither selfishness nor shallowness in your original comment. I have read it multiple times, trying to identify what portion you might be referring to, but I still cannot see it…

      What I do see is a warrior’s practical approach, a sage’s wisdom, and a compassionate being’s need to reach out to comfort and uplift another. And I am grateful for all three!


      • Thanks for querying that. There’s a simple answer to that, Lisa. I took YOUR words, your feelings, and turned them into a selfish ME comment. That you did not see it that way says even more about your own selfless nature. Take care o’ you, Lisa!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Ahhh… I see now where you are coming from. But here in the Otherhood, we are reflections of, and for, One An’Other. So anything you say about you reveals something of value about me, even if it’s only in my reactions. And since this post was about Givers in general, albeit in my words, it was also about you, for I count you among them… Nothing selfish in sharing your own experiences with it; in fact, such is strongly encouraged!

        Don’t get me wrong. Like anyone I appreciate hearing compliments or comments about how my words affected someone positively. But I also truly value discussion of ideas, and the sharing of experiences. I learn so much that way. And ultimately I created this blog for that purpose; I did not need a public forum as an online journal. Just sayin’… ;D

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Pingback: When the journey seems futile… – The Militant Negro™

    • Look deeper into the shadows, George, and you will realize that you are not alone in giving. You are surrounded by others like you. And together, somehow, we manage to hold it all together enough. At least for now…

      We are also the foundation upon which any possible future will be built. It will be our backs they stand upon, our sweat they will rely on, our blood that will nourish them, and our tears that will comfort them. But to be anything else is to be them…

      And, personally, I would prefer not to be that.

      Thank you for being who and what you are. And for being here today. Sincerely!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. It’s the world we live in, George. The really big takers make billions, the little takers are the gnats, lice and fleas that suck your blood out and think it doesn’t matter because it’s such a little bit, you see! So… that’s where discernment comes into play, what I call self empowerment. If I can learn to be a giver without attachment to guilt for not doing enough, and there are enough of “them” out there to try to convince us we are not doing enough, then we can remain givers and keep our integrity at the same time. That’s what I really like about living with compassion: it tells you when to hold, and when to fold and no guilt about it. Sorrow, certainly, but no guilt.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Pingback: When the journey seems futile… | the otherhood of one | AGR Daily 60 Second News Bites

  9. I like this characterization you’ve come up with: “As an authentic expression of themselves”. This is true. It is possible to cultivate something new in ourselves. AT first then, this new thing is like a shiny ideal, reorienting our thoughts, retreating into the background, surfacing again. As we keep doing, if we can, the opinion wall of the outside falls away from us — we do not care about or even do not see it. The new thing becomes more a part of us, and so requires no effort, just being. There is a joy in just being.

    Also, I think blending the serving of self with the serving of others is a sort of master craft nowadays. If someone can do this seamlessly, knowing when doing something for self will expand and help what we could do for others — that is graceful living. The doer makes it look easy and natural. But several lifetimes may have been involved with baking this souffle.

    Thanks for your post! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you for this thought-provoking comment. I like your description of how we integrate new traits/behaviors. And I agree there is a joy in just being…

      The souffle analogy made me smile, as I have often been accused of being half-baked. Lol!

      Thank you for stopping by, stoltzyblog! It is wonderful to meet you! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  10. rawgod says:

    “They do not act to serve others, but they serve others as an authentic expression of themselves.”
    Dear Lisa, you have put into words what I found to be true of myself when I accepted my self-empowerment, self-actualization, or however one wants to describe taking responsibility for their own life. Over the years I have myself tried to say this is different ways, but generally ending up with the phrase “taking responsibility for one’s self automatically includes “a priori” taking responsibility for all living beings. It is a feature of life that you don’t always expect to have happen. I did not expect it to happen to me, I actually thought I had reached a point in my journey through life that I was able to say, “I am finally who I am meant to be!”
    Only, I found that who I am meant to be is more than I ever could have imagined. You say early in the above post that one has to decide to choose service to self, or to service to others? Here, from my experience, I have to disagree with how you are saying that. And I think what I am trying to say might help you in your later thoughts: If you choose service to others, you are not choosing service to self. However, if you are truly making this choice at this time, by choosing service to self you inately are choosing service to others.
    In my own philosophy, all living beings are one living being. Or, in fewer words: There is only one life, and that life is LIFE. Therefore, service to self is service to all…
    Of course this is a very simplified version of my philosophy, but every experience I have had in life leads me to the same conclusion, there is only one Life, and that Life is using all us seperated beings to learn how to live life in the most positive manner possible, and in order to do that it has to, through we seemingly seperated beings, experience the best and worst of what life has to offer. Only then can Life know what to choose, and what to discard.
    We all have down days, when we question our motivations, our feelings, our beliefs, our acts, and our thoughts. I fear that those who are self-empowered do this way more than most. I know I am going through a very black period even as I write this reply to you. But I also know, once on the path, we can stand still, or even stumble backwards aways, but we are self-taught to advance. We have had enough of the two-steps-forward–three-steps-backward game, and it is no longer useful for us. We have passed a point in life where we are uplifting ourselves, to maintain a positive metaphor, and the more we uplift ourselves the higher and faster we will go.
    We are the pathsetters, the breakers of new ground. And while we may not all be breaking the same ground that is because Life needs us all to find our own paths do that it can have many paths to choose from.
    There is so much more I want to say, but I feel I am over-writing things as usual. Please take me at my word that the universe is unfolding not as it should, but so as to surprise us with what we are truly capable of.
    Thank you, Sha’Tara for leading me here.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Quote: “Thank you, Sha’Tara for leading me here.”

      Oh, G*d! Oh, please don’t accuse me of leading anyone, anywhere! I swear, I promise: I’ll repent, I’ll never, ever do that again…! 😥

      Liked by 1 person

    • Yes! All this and more! Thank you, rawgod!

      I love the way you put this: ““taking responsibility for one’s self automatically includes “a priori” taking responsibility for all living beings.” That is it, exactly! In words simple, eloquent and expressive. I love it!

      What you call “Life” I call “One,” but ultimately, I think, they refer to the same Being/concept/experience, etc… But I really, really prefer “Life” as it captures the reality of my experiences. I serve Life. Yes, I can definitely live with that!

      And to be fair, I wasn’t suggesting there are only two paths to follow; rather it is an idea that has been tossed my way repeatedly by many others on various paths of enlightenment/ascension/self-empowerment, but it has always left me feeling incomplete. In this post I was exploring a third possibility – that we serve our selves, and in so doing, serve All as well…

      The web that I refer to here is that collection of beings who also serve Life (god, I LOVE that phraseology – thank you!), and who, by virtue of doing so, support even those who do not. Why? Because they, too, are a part of the journey that All must experience, and “worthy” simply by virtue of their existence…

      I am so glad, and grateful, that you found your way here, rawgod, and would happily (sincerely) welcome further insights and dialogue!

      (P.S. I was so blown away by this response that I immediately rushed over to check out what might be happening on your own blog. Only to discover it had been deleted… 😦 Are you blogging at a different site?)


      • rawgod says:

        rawgodsspiritualatheism.wordpress.com is the correct address, but not everyone seems to get there, so if you continue to have problems let me know, please.
        Meanwhile, thank you for all your kind words and excitement, for that is how I felt when I was reading your Book of Other. I could recognize myself in certain things you say, and I knew I had to make the offer to connect.
        But allow me to read and respond to your other comments, if responses are necessary, and then we can work on the rest.


      • rawgod says:

        Meanwhile I am trying to find the beginning of your blog, to read it as you wrote it. How long have you been blogging on WordPress? I am back to Dec 2015. How much more is there to go?

        Liked by 1 person

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