Only us. This is what makes the difference – who we are, what we’ve become and how we choose to view and react to the outside circumstance that has befallen us, someone we love or our society. We are the lines dividing tragedy from an experience of complete unbearable hell. Some tragedy in live is unavoidable, even necessary to live a full human existence, to learn how to recognize and appreciate beauty counterbalancing the tragedy. Tragedies happen, hells are created by our own device, a place we choose to be by our own, words, actions and attitudes.

The chance that you’ll live a completely safe life untouched by some form of tragedy is astronomically small and there is a question to be raised can such a life be deemed as a fully lived life at all. Tragedies are equally destructive and innovation generating, painful in opening up another way of seeing and depth creating precipices that allow you to, once you emerge on the other side, have more compassion for those going through something themselves. They are not meaningless, useless and cruel but portals to other things and higher understanding. No matter how hard, painful, gut wrenching or world crushing the tragedy is, we can make a choice that it will not be in vain, not a wasted sorrow. Even if there is temporarily no way out, we can continue to seek for the rays of light seeping through, there are always some, but we just get blind to them due to taking things for granted or being so grief stricken that it closes us of in anger due to unfairness or self-pity. But tragedy doesn’t need to become hell. The difference between the two is… hope – hope that it will pass, that you can carry it, that it is teaching you, that you’re strong beyond belief and that you will not feel crushed and empty forever.

As long as there is hope and a conscious decision to seek beauty, to not get bitter or vengeful against anything or anyone we blame for the tragedy, we’ll be all right, not touching the door of hell and keeping despair at bay. There is a reason why Dante’s Inferno asks those who enter to abandon all hope – because losing all hope is the only true hell there is. It is not an external place, but an internal landscape, as wide or narrow as you make it. No matter what happens along the way or what you might be going through now – hope will keep the center of you alive and reignite your person once the clouds clear. And you’ll be better for having lived through it all, maybe scarred a bit, but better still. No matter how it all unfolds, hold on to hope and beauty and don’t cross the line. Hell is very much real, but so is heaven and everything in between.