I was never close to my dad. I love him and he loves me but when I was a kid he didn’t really talk to me ever. So on the rare occasion that he did have something to say to me, I’d soak it up like a camel drinking water.
One day when I was 12, I was watching TV quietly and he was silently reading the newspaper. This was our version of spending time together. Then he said “Graaace…” He lowered his newspaper and looked at me and said “Life is just about SUFFERING!” Then went back to reading his newspaper. Fairly shocked, I didn’t really know what to do with that bomb he just dropped. So, being a little girl concerned with little girl things, I just left it in the box of ‘evidence that my dad is mental’. But, over time, I would keep thinking about what he said and 16 years later, this is what I’ve come up with.
Life is just about suffering.
But there’s two kinds of suffering: suffering imposed on us, and suffering we impose on ourselves.
The first kind of suffering is just the suffering of life: people treating us badly, disappointments, frustration, the casual stress of the daily grind. Our relationship to this kind of suffering seems to take up the majority of our lives. Suffering isn’t fun, so we run away from it, with procrastination, escapism from watching TV, playing games, drinking, whatever. We spend our free time running away from suffering until it’s imposed on us some more, and we just go back and forth like that, seemingly forever.
The second kind of suffering is the suffering we impose on ourselves. Every achievement in life comes at a price and that price is suffering. Athletes do one more lap or one more rep past what they think they can do. Feel the burn? Good! Now we’re getting somewhere. J. K. Rowling was rejected nine times before finding a publisher to pick up Harry Potter. I’m sure each rejection felt like a stab in the heart. Edison went through thousands of failures before he invented the lightbulb. I can’t even imagine what that feels like. The measure of ‘success’ seems to be the amount of suffering that we can impose on ourselves in order to reach a goal and our willingness to submit to it.
In essence, if you’re alive, you’re going to suffer. If you want to have a ‘successful’ life, it’s better to run towards suffering that will toughen you up and is good for you. But everyones got their limits…
As for me, I tried running towards suffering before and it sucked big time. I burned my bridges, so there was no where to go but forward and honestly, I couldn’t sustain it. The suffering imposed on me in my daily life was too great so when it came time to impose some more suffering on myself, I had nothing left to give.
I guess, getting caught up in my head about what life is life and suffering and stuff, I forgot to take time to really chill out and hang out with some good friends. The human aspect was forgotten a bit…
So to put a twist on what my dad said,
“Life is just about SUFFERING! ..and hanging out with friends.” ^^