“If you’re going through Hell, keep going!” or Why Winston Churchill was Right.


If you’re going through Hell, keep going” ~ or why Winston Churchill
was right




If life is a journey that begins with our birth, then the ultimate
destination is death. This is simple logic talking, picking apart a
somewhat overused metaphor and deconstructing it. I often wonder at the way the world is, and how blinkered we often are, how focussed on the outcome and not on the process, how determined to get where we’re going as fast as possible.


I’m guilty of it myself, on a regular basis, of wishing to get somewhere and skip the boring parts. And yet, as someone who travels for part of her living, I cover thousands of kilometres a year and very seldom get bored by the countless hours aboard a coach surrounded by other people getting bored and frustrated by the miles. For me, I have a rich inner life that stops me getting bored when all there is for hours is the side of the autoroute or motorway.




When it comes to the simple passage of life, it’s too easy to wish away the quiet hours, and rush along to better, more exciting things, and in doing so we can miss so many beautiful things because we don’t take the time to look. The sheer wonder of nature infiltrates every niche, like these swallows nesting undisturbed barely above eye-line at the Slipper Chapel in Walsingham.


They flew in and out and no one seemed to see them; I could have put my hand into the nests and scooped out eggs or hatchlings. Yet the birds seemed unconcerned, having learned that people generally didn’t even see what was in plain sight.




But it is in the dark times that we most need to keep going without
rushing through the process. Winston Churchill’s famous words seem
obvious, but there are a number of ways that people react to the dark
times. There are those who when plunged into darkness will stay
there, lost in a state of psychosis and shock. This might be for the
rest of their lives, and for these souls, medical care is still in
its infancy. Thankfully, relatively few people end up lost in this




Giving up and settling for the cold comfort of believing that this is all
there is to life may be another reaction. When people react like
this, it’s often at the stage where they were very close to emerging
on the other side, and are occupying those grey hinterlands of hell,
that one might term limbo. They’ve been trudging along for such a
long while that the relief at things suddenly not being quite so bad
convinces them that they are through and free. From being in total
darkness, they’re in a monochrome world that seems sparkling with
light by comparison to what they have emerged from. I think that
Churchill’s words are at their most powerful for people like these,
who do not realise that they are still in their own hell.




If you are taking one of these enforced subterranean journeys, then I
have a little advice. Do not rush headlong, in your desire to emerge
into a lighter place, because in your ascent you will find places
that appear to be beyond the darkness. Like great caverns lit by
eerie phosphorescence, these are places where you can take rest and
refreshment and give you time to think. They are way-stations on the
way home, but they are not home itself. These are places where you
may re-equip yourself with torches to light your way and other things
that may ease your journey. You may meet people here who have wisdom to share with you, who may wish to hear your story. But these are not places to stay and live. They are places between the worlds and the nourishment they provide is both limited and limiting. Use these times to reorientate yourself, but do not fool yourself into thinking you are home safe. You are not. There’s a long way to go. You may come to these places and stages many times before you come out into the true daylight again.




If life is a journey, then any short-cut is a death-trap. It might be
literal death, or it might be that drawn-out metaphorical death of
the spirit I have spoken of before, but bypassing and cheating your
own journey will only ever ensure you spend far longer in the dark
places than you might otherwise have done. If you’re going through
hell, you might wish to go back, to a better time or place, but this
will ultimately just take you deeper into that hell.


On this one, I am with Winston: “If you’re going through hell, keep


14 thoughts on ““If you’re going through Hell, keep going!” or Why Winston Churchill was Right.

  1. I think a lot of our confusion comes from placing too much meaning on absolute terms. If you understand that you understand the meaning of life.


  2. Use these words a lot, even have them as a magnet on my fridge. Home is a place I often yearn for but I am I am not sure it exists. I agree the beauty of the everyday object is what helps us on our journey.
    Your words are very insightful and helpful.


  3. B
    “but it is in the dark times that we most need to keep going without rushing the process”
    I find this resonates with me strongly.
    How often I catch that critical, poisonous voice that tells me, you should be doing this life thing, faster, better, more successfully, haven’t you figured it out yet?
    And yet, one thing I know for sure, I so much prefer and admire the woman that my journey makes me. Loved your post, shared on Facebook


  4. And you can get through any hell by breaking your goal up into steps. Set the goal. Achieve it. Congratulate yourself. ( courtesy of my coach Rob Freeman ) ; so what if you’re still in hell. You’re moving out of it logically.


  5. I am late, but never too late. Googled for this quote and found your blog. I like the way you related the quote to your life journey and life journey in general. life’s ultimate destination is death and since we’re going through life to death, it s definitely not wrong to say we’re going through hell and we’re keeping on with it, for sure.


  6. Reminds me of the thoughts of an artist whom I admire and have written about in various contexts and places over recent years. Aside from being an painter of international standing, the person I have in mind was once a prominent and highly respected educationalist who often bemoaned a tendency in those students he encountered who sought, in whatever way, to circumvent a problem (in this case a problem that may arise in the making of visual art) – “You cannot circumvent the problem,” he was often heard to insist, “you must go right through it!” Regardless of medium or genre, the difference between circumventing the problem and going right through it, was what differentiated the great from the mediocre. It always has been and I hope it always will be.


    • He was quite right. I think in life the same is true. I had a friend, who used to comment here often until he disappeared entirely two years ago, that was an expert at evading problems like that. I think he disappeared and disconnected simply to escape problems that had been building for years and which seemed insurmountable. My feeling is that problems avoided and evaded will always reform, and present again in a new shape until you do face them.
      Thanks for visiting and commenting.


  7. I have always found comfort in this particular Churchill quote. There are more eloquent, but there’s something about the simplicity of it that makes it more powerful. I was looking for inspirational quotes in order to write something myself when I came across your blog. After reading it, there was no point writing, you’d said it all, and so beautifully. I am going through one of the most difficult times of my life, and it helps to start the day with something positive. Thank you for being the source in this instance.


    • Good morning Molly and thank you.
      Please do write something, because it’s often in the writing of it that we find even greater comfort and insight. I know I did. This post has been one that garners more hits than almost any other on my blog, so I am very happy I wrote it, and at the time I was myself going through a very tough time.
      I hope and pray that your troubles grow less and your blessings greater.


      • Thank you, Viv. I’m still getting to grips with this site, hence the late reply. I need to write but am somewhat intimidated by the quality of writing on this site. I’m my own worst enemy when it comes to recognising my own talents. I suppose it’s human to compare oneself with others. My husband is a songwriter and an extraordinary writer who has the ability to put his thoughts into beautiful poetry or prose at the drop of a hat. I need to find a way to stop being my own worst critic. Maybe I should write about that. Thanks for the encouragement, I really need it.


  8. Reblogged this on The World of The Teigr Princess and commented:
    Hell is in the mind – and believe me, our minds can make the world go to hell for us even when common sense is screaming that everything is fine and that we shouldn’t be feeling like this. Ignore it and travel through the darkness – the light at the end of the tunnel isn’t an oncoming train, it’s our realisation that we are alive and able to experience things all the better for having been through the darkness.


  9. Pingback: A Decade of Tightrope Walking – a celebration of ten years of blogging – Zen and the Art of Tightrope Walking

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