Life is a rollercoaster at the best of times. When times are good, we feel the elation and fun of being here, and we want to share our joy with the world. When times are bad, either we do not want to face anyone, or nobody wants to face our misery.

Where do we find our solace and peace during the down times? And why do we only seek solace during the down times?

I grew up in a culture where we were taught that during the worst of times, we can find solace in the church. When I hit my first adult crisis, I went to the church and found an empty, cold building. I went to the people of the church, but they chose to avoid me. I became an outcast because I was getting a divorce. I then went to the church minister for the solace that I so desperately needed, but the reception was cold and hostile.

That was not solace. I kept searching.

I became an industrial psychologist and memorised every theory about changing behaviour and thoughts. I applied these theories and they worked as long as people really wanted to buy into the constraints of the theories and shared a particular reality.

But then the company that I worked for experienced a low in the economic cycle and could no longer afford my expertise. I had to find another job. This is not a big deal in itself, but it took me seven months to find another job. In my culture this was a definite sign of failure, and as a result I could not share the path with anyone else. None of the theories worked for me. I needed solace.

At the same time a friend looked at me for help in dealing with a very personal crisis. None of the theories worked for his situation either and I had to pretend to be strong while I desperately needed solace. Not from the church, not from knowledge of psychological theories, not from family, not from friends – none of them could provide any for me.

That is when my search for solace started in earnest. In desperation I did a thing that was regarded as a big sin – I went to see a psychic. She gave me the hope and courage that I was looking for. She told me about the job that I would get, and everything turned out as she had predicted. I was impressed. I wanted to know more.

I had a glimpse of solace, but the new job and the friend that challenged every paradigm that I grew up with took that away again. I discovered that it is much easier to lose inner peace than to find it.

It also did not feel quite right for me that I had to pay another person to look into my future and provide solace to me. What if that person was not available the next time? What if I went to another psychic and that person gave me a different version of my future? What peace would that leave me with? And where did they get the information from anyway? I wanted to bypass the “middlemen” and go straight to the source.

But where and who and what was the source? My quest led me to reading about spiritual issues. I discovered the difference between faith and religion. I understood why, for me, the whole concept of religion and the external control that went with it was quite disturbing.

As part of my journey I discovered my own psychic abilities. For many years I helped other people find solace in that I could read their past, present and future, and give them moments of peace. The peace they got from listening to the messages they conveyed, probably was also not lasting, and they probably are also still searching.

However, that journey taught me so much about our inner world. I discovered that we all share the same inner world, no matter what our challenges in life are. That inner world is governed by a particular structure and a number of laws that are always the same.

The laws include things like “you cannot pour from an empty jug, and it is your duty to keep your inner jug full” and “there is no bad or good, there are only challenges, and we only get the challenges that we are ready for”.

I learned from the lives of my clients about the spiral. We begin life at the bottom of a spiral, and through various life experiences, we manage the slow, arduous climb up the spiral. Eventually we reach the top of the spiral, and life is rosy –we have solace – and we have an inner peace and a tranquillity that is so lovely to experience.

And the life happens again and we think oh no, not again – just when everything is going so well. We look up and all we see is the long arduous climb up the spiral, and that we have to do it again. However, we forget to look down and see where we came from and how much we have already achieved. We do not notice that while we are at the bottom of the new spiral, we are in fact at the top of the previous spiral. We never slide down. We just keep climbing, and as we climb up our legs just get stronger.

Did these insights help me in my journey? Yes, they did, in the sense that I now have an understanding of a process that we all go through in many different ways during our lives. And no, they did not, in the sense that I can easily tune in to my clients and give them insights into their lives and inner peace, however fleeting, but for a long time I did not get the same insights for myself. That was quite frustrating, because I wanted to know more about my own future than about the future of my clients. After all, how much is a gift of being psychic worth if you cannot use it for yourself?

Then I experienced the next eye-opener. I wanted to know about my own future because I had all kinds of fears about what was waiting for me. I wanted to know whether I was good enough for what was ahead of me. Was I equipped for the challenges? Would there be enough money? What if this, what if that?

I learned to do with the fear exactly what my clients are always advised by means of their messages – break the fears down in the same way that you built up the fears – brick by brick, illusion by illusion. Where there is no fear, there is clarity, and instead of being blinded by the fear, I can now be guided by the vision.

Do I still have moments of fear? You bet. Do I break them down quickly? Of course, because my vision is clear.

My journey has also taken me to solutions and methods that I use to help people find moments of balance in their lives rather than look at the future with fear. I can then help them to understand that we only experience moments of balance, and as long as we are aware of them, we will strive for them.

However, there are ways to speed up these moments and live a more balanced life in general. We can identify our view of the world and understand how and when this view was shaped. We can then bring perspective to those crucial moments and find the balance in everything that happens to us. And there is solace.

Inner peace is not a sanctuary where we go if we want to hide away from a cruel world. It is rather a moment where we win, having played the world at its own game. Then we move on to the next level and we aim to win that level as well. Inner peace is the prize that we work for, and we learn to find more and more moments of inner peace. We also learn that days of inner peace are not realistic or challenging enough when we have this zest for life. We accept the fleeting moments of solace with gratitude and we accept the challenges that come our way with gratitude.

We realise that we are in the driver’s seat, and that always provides a moment of bliss along the way. That is what makes the journey worthwhile.

First published in If Journal vol. 121

Author's Bio: 

Elsabe Smit is the author of the soul-touching collection of short stories, A Tapestry of Life and of the blog, Spiritual interpretations of everyday life.