(The love from you people continues to pour into me like sunlight. It’s overwhelming. All I can say is thank you.)
Alright, so the Buddha said, “Life is suffering.”
The first time I heard that I thought they misquoted the effing guy.
The second time I heard that I thought Well, that is just not true at all. Life is awesome! The Buddha and I are going to have to agree to disagree on this one.
The third time I heard that I thought It’s soooooooo truuuuuuue. LIFE IS PAAAAAAIN.
Then I heard it again for a fourth time the other day. And this time I think I get it. Laymen’s terms: If you’re not living life, you won’t suffer. But if you are living life, hold on for the ride.
There’s a certain kind of living that is so incubated, built in such a way that disturbance and pain aren’t even options in your daily life that by the end of it, you can’t really claim you lived. But if you’re seeking, if you’re a fellow traveler trying to find your best and greatest self all of the time, the next step, the next chapter, the next thrilling (but not life-threatening) risk, then you’re living. And that life is bound to come with suffering.
OF COURSE there’s some suffering you simply can’t avoid. People die. They get fired. They lose their homes in disasters. You’re going to get that in any kind of life you live, right? (Right. Glad we agree.) And people say things like, “Why is this happening to me?!” Well, because it happens to all of us, my dear. And if you stay on the straight and narrow, you’ll still experience that kind of suffering at one point or another.
But if you live your life balls to the wall, going after big desires and big love, your passions and your dreams (even though you don’t have the degree or the support system or the GUARANTEES you think you should have in place before you do any of that), you might fall super freaking hard while you’re climbing. Most people like to avoid that kind of falling, so they simply don’t climb anything too high. The trade-off, though, is you never once get that view from the very top. That view is breathtaking. It’s life-changing. It’s that love at a soul level, a contentment in your bones, success swirling around you. It swallows you whole and gives you a clarity/joy/peace you weren’t even sure existed for you. Those moments in life are what make you YOU and make life such an incredible experience. And you don’t get them by being safe.
I could have quit climbing, stayed married, and experienced a perfectly adequate life. My husband could have done that, too. But truth be told if we want more, we have to live life. And life is suffering. It’s also crazy joy, crazy beauty, crazy passion, crazy love all over the place. (Buddha just didn’t mention those last parts in this particular quote.) You don’t get to have the view without the suffering. You just don’t. You suffer and get the view over and over again in life, until you reach enlightenment (whatever that is). So as I walk through the suffering I have to trust that the upside is the view from the top that’s waiting for me, even if only for a moment.
Caroline Myss says, “When you say something shouldn’t be happening to you, well, yes it should. Because it is.” I’m not modern day mystic, but I do think she’s right. Suffering is a part of the deal, and if you can learn to survive the suffering, you get to enjoy some crazy cool stuff.
(If all of this ends up being untrue and I suffer for no reason, I’ll let you know.)