You are the light at the end of the tunnel.
The hopeful phrase “There is a light at the end of tunnel!” in response to someone confessing depression or hard times, is very common. Usually, it’s accepted by the recipient as motivational and inspiriting, but more often it’s met with cynicism and indignation.
Perhaps the reason why so many people find that phrase so cloying or caustic, twisting it into cynical retorts – is that the idea of a “light at the end of the tunnel” places Hope within the realm of the material. Time and Space. Sequence and hierarchy.
Rumi said the greatest love is Love without Object. I think the same goes for Hope. When we imbue hope into a ‘thing’, an event, person, or outcome (and this is especially prevalent for someone who feels awful), the mind will often, effortlessly and mechanically, produce that opposite thought. This makes it really easy for you to shoot yourself down during any attempt to cheer yourself up with “hope-events.”
“I should feel Hopeful because…my injuries will heal, I’ll get that job I need and I’ll be able to move to a better home. There IS a light at the end of the tunnel!”
How simple it is for the formatory apparatus to automatically bring fourth dire opposites to dwell on…
“NO! You’ll be sick and struggling forever. You won’t get what you want. There is only tunnel!”
What usually results is people trying to solve thought with more thinking. A friction between perceived futures. One good, one bad. Both imaginary.
The light/tunnel motivation metaphor perpetuates the idea of rejecting the present experience for some perceived “other.”
“I am in this awful tunnel, and over there is the light, where I want to be, but am not now!”
Like chasing a sunset, you set people up for failure automatically by placing their Happiness as a carrot on a stick. Even worse, they become blind to whatever joy they might be able to find here and now. After all, where else can you be happy but Now?
Words like Hope and Love point to something that bankrupts human language, and frankly, they were here first. People were experiencing Hope long before we came up with any symbol to illustrate it. When we take Hope out of a bound ciruit of cause and effect, we free the feeling. I think it’s time we did away with this cliché response to confessions of turmoil, and contemplate something more real to say. Or maybe just listening.