Spent yesterday working with my coaching groups.
Part of what I taught, appropriately so, was the value of suffering.
There are two types: the suffering we willingly choose in order to excel at something. This is the sort I went through as a collegiate wrestler, as a martial artist, as a writer, and so on. You endure things that most cannot fathom – and you do so with a greater cause, a greater goal in mind. This makes 80% or more of the suffering feel good.
It’s pleasurable even though it’s painful. You willingly subject yourself to it because you know it’s for your greater good. 20% of the time you spend working toward the goal feels like torture; it feels unbearable.
And at times, about 3% of the time, perhaps, you’re on the verge of giving up, of quitting, because you have doubts about whether you’re going to make it.
The second type of suffering is the type that is thrown at us. We don’t feel like we’ve willingly chosen it. But it’s there. Someone close to us dies, or gets sick, or gets injured. Or we undergo a trauma ourselves. We’re left wondering “why?” We’re jarred backed into the “present.” We hurt even though we don’t want to. We feel we shouldn’t have to suffer. We try to avoid the pain – yet we cannot do so completely – so we surrender to it and allow the energy to be transformed – and along with it, ourselves.
This type of suffering, if willingly embraced, helps us grow. We become more compassionate, more loving, more caring toward others. We feel more connected – and we are.
Ultimately, no matter how painful, if we search for the seed of how the suffering makes us better human beings, we will find it.
True, you don’t have to ever feel a bit of compassion, a bit of pain. You need not feel empathy for anyone.
You don’t need to suffer, ever. You can go through life without shedding a tear. You can attend funerals with a smile on your face.
But are you really living life to the full if you can only experience the gamut of emotions from A-B?
It would be like playing the piano, but only hitting the ivory keys, or only the ebony. Wouldn’t be much of a piano player now, would you?
It’d be like only being able to play a couple notes on a flute – or only being able to play one or two strings on a guitar.
As I wrote in my email two days ago – You Cannot Escape from This – which you can view on my blog – Life is Not Suffering – but it is part of life. So is happiness. And part of being human is balancing both at the very same time. I’m happy – yet I hurt. I hurt – yet I’m happy.
Thanks to everyone who wrote me, posted here, sent test messages and/or called.