Mental Health Monday: The Last Bastian of Hope

David Whyte
David Whyte

A really unusual thing happened to me today: I forgot to write a blog post. I don’t think that’s ever happened before. Ever. Oh, sure, there have been times when I’ve just been tired of blogging or came up empty. But not today. Today I just didn’t remember it was Mental Health Monday. Why? I was totally in the zone with writing on my novel. So that’s a good thing, right? Then about 8 p.m. tonight I was watching “So You Think You Can Dance” on TV and suddenly I remembered. It’s Monday!

I was flipping through emails and Facebook posts while watching TV and happened across this post from the poet and writer David Whyte. It’s from his book, CONSOLATIONS: The Solace, Nourishment and Underlying Meaning of Everyday Words. (Many Rivers Press 2015.) I can’t find a link to the post and I know I can’t just copy and post the whole thing, so here’s a taste:


takes us in when we have nowhere else to go; when we feel the heart cannot break anymore, when our world or our loved ones disappear, when we feel we cannot be loved or do not deserve to be loved, when our God disappoints, or when our body is carrying profound pain in a way that does not seem to go away.

He had me at profound pain. And then he takes us higher (or lower?):

Despair is a haven with its own temporary form of beauty and of self compassion, it is the invitation we accept when we want to remove ourselves from hurt. Despair, is a last protection. To disappear through despair, is to seek a temporary but necessary illusion, a place where we hope nothing can ever find us in the same way again.

I’ve never thought of despair in a positive way before reading these words. I’ve always thought of it as the lowest point one can fall. And maybe it is, but the way Whyte spins it, it can be a blessing, even if it is “a necessary illusion,” or as he continues, “a necessary and seasonal state of repair.”

Repair? Healing? I couldn’t stop reading:

 We give up hope when certain particular wishes are no longer able to come true and despair is the time in which we both endure and heal, even when we have not yet found the new form of hope.

It reminds me of some things I was feeling when I wrote “the new normal” last Monday. But he takes it so much deeper:

Despair is strangely, the last bastion of hope; the wish being, that if we cannot be found in the old way we cannot ever be touched or hurt in that way again.

If you want to read the rest of Whyte’s article here, find him on Facebook and look for his post from July 12.

Come back on Wednesday to find out why I was so immersed in my novel that I forgot to blog today!

Thanks, always, for reading.