Today I ran across a meme on Facebook that got under my skin (I know, you are amazed that I would find something I read on Facebook annoying or offensive, right?) The text went something like this: ‘Diamonds are created from time and pressure’. While these weren’t the exact words I am sure you get the gist of it, it’s basically implying that if we can withstand the time and pressure our lives bring, we will become ‘diamonds’. I can’t tell you how many times I have run into the same or very similar message over the last few years in various blogs and articles. When I first began my infertility journey this type of thing would motivate me and may even give me some comfort. But this was way before the years of pain, gut wrenching sadness and the desperate end to a lifelong dream of being a mother, before I sank so low down into the well of despair that I was afraid I would die right then and there and before I knew what “time and pressure” could really do to a person when left unchecked. Today when I saw this meme, well, to be honest it just ticked me off.
The thing is, I learned something through all that pain and darkness I endured and it’s basically this: People are not diamonds, and more importantly, I don’t think we should aspire to be. Don’t get me wrong, I understand the attraction of it. Diamonds are beautiful, they shine and sparkle and they are highly coveted and best of all, they are hard which is a trait that most people believe is synonymous with being strong. Who wouldn’t want to be beautiful, strong and able to withstand just about anything? Sounds ideal, right? However, the truth is that although diamonds are hard, “hard” is not the same thing as “strong”. They are extremely resistant to scratching yet most diamonds are not as durable as you would think. Many have planes that run across the stones where splits can and do occur. They may also have inclusions or cracks that weaken them and make them more likely to break over time. Diamonds are beautiful, cold, hard and brittle. They don’t absorb energy well and therefore they can shatter. This is what too much time and pressure creates, and it’s the antithesis of what I aspire to be.
I think people are unique and amazing and can’t truly be compared to inanimate objects like diamonds, but I do think we have something in common with living, growing things like plants and flowers. Flowers need good soil, nutrients, sunshine (in varying degrees) and the right environment to grow. I know people who have thriving plants in almost every corner of their house and many of them speak directly to them; They encourage them to grow big and strong with loving words and compliments and they would swear on their own lives that this works and what’s more, I’ve seen it work. I believe we, as human beings with thoughts and emotions, also grow when we are planted in good soil (families, workplaces, etc…), when we are fed the right nutrients (confidence, education, support, compassion, etc…) and when people speak lovingly to us and us to ourselves.
I don’t deny that growth can and does happen in dark places. Some flowers and plants can be incredibly resilient and will find the one sliver of sunshine peeking through a crack in the ground and grow toward that light. They can survive on very little water, much like the cactus does in the desert. But the cactus, although beautiful to be sure, is prickly to the touch. Yes, we humans too can grow in pain and darkness. But too much of it can make us brittle, hard, prickly and unable to absorb the energy around us. We can’t always control the darkness, but if we could learn to feed ourselves and each other with light, nutrients (love and compassion) and encouragement I believe we would then have the capacity to grow into our true beauty. Like a flower, we may not last forever but while we are here we can bloom, sway in the breeze and add color and happiness to those that we encounter. This to me is a far better fate.
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