No doubt about it, these are tough times for everyone. More and more, it seems like each of us is struggling on a daily basis, wondering whether prosperity and good fortune will ever come our way. Frankly, sometimes it looks as if getting through this difficult period may prove impossible for anyone who isn't me. Yet do not despair, my estranged brothers and sisters in battle, but take heart in knowing that you're all in this together.

The vast majority of us are facing one of the toughest trials I have ever been excluded from facing. And while I realize, from my distant point of view, how daunting it may seem to push forward in the midst of overwhelming adversity, let me assure you this: There is a light at the end of the tunnel.

Take it from someone outside the tunnel.

To overcome this nearly collective hurdle, you will all need to come together as one. Each one of you has something unique to contribute to the whole, a part no one else can fill. Certainly not me, since my part is radically different from any of yours.

When you awake each morning, hours before I'll actually get up, ask yourselves what it is that you can be doing to make a difference without my help. Some may accuse me of being naïve, but I firmly believe that if you all work together, there's no telling what you will accomplish without me being involved in any way. The most important thing to remember in all of this is that you have each other. And only each other.

Sometimes an outsider's perspective can be a great benefit. The way I see it, it's crucial, now more than ever before, that everyone pull his or her own weight. And somewhere out there, there's at least one strong, capable person who can pull the weight of two to make up the difference. Mark my words: Absolutely nothing, and I mean nothing, can stop you if you all rise up as one (or nearly one), lift your heads skyward with pride, and demand in no uncertain terms to be counted. Not even my complete lack of participation.

The obstacles that lie ahead are bigger than any one person, yet at the same time, they're not so big as to have to include every single individual. I'm convinced that if you all unite in your goal, and I continue to stand way, way off to the side, sooner or later you'll stop noticing my absence altogether.

Look past me as a guide in this.

Please remember, this is not the time for giving in, for backing down, for deciding to walk away. No, that time was a while ago, and I'm afraid it's too late for all of you now. You see, in order to succeed, you must think of yourselves as one big family. And of me as someone who is not in any way related to that family. You must find strength in knowing that if you ever fall down, there will be others right there by your side to pick you up. Those who are good with that sort of thing and who don't have a history of back problems.

Also, during those darkest of hours, don't forget that sacrifice is often necessary to foster change. Please commit this to heart now if you have to, because I certainly won't be around to repeat it later.

I don't envy your task. But if it's any comfort, I'll always be behind you. Far behind you. Way back near the horizon. That small, faint outline of what almost looks like a man, but could be a fence post or telephone pole, or maybe even a heat mirage—that will be me.

So yeah, good luck, and let me know how everything turns out.