Life is suffering, the great Buddha said.
That doesn’t speak well of the Author of this play, of course, unless there’s a higher purpose behind it all. Our task then, in the midst of our pain, is to somehow suspend our disbelief and attempt to discern His intentions – not an easy thing to do while being buffeted by the blows of The Great Heavyweight Champ Himself. If you have the right spirit, though, you’ll go the distance and come out smiling, even though you’ll never win the fight.
I’ve learned anew some of the basic lessons of suffering myself in recent weeks, including the fundamental but jarring realization that no man is exempt from it. While it is true that it does always happen to the other guy, you must never forget that to everyone else, you are the other guy. This past few weeks it was my turn. Again.
While I prefer not to go into the details of my suffering, I will allow that it is the suffering of a father for the fate of his daughter, and that every day, every hour, every minute has inflicted a new wound, a new and unexpected source of pain; a kind of “death by a thousand cuts.” But for me, surprisingly, it has gradually become more of a “renewal by a thousand band-aids.” Let me explain.
At moments like this, of course, there’s no way to escape the searing fire; nowhere to run, nowhere to hide. Not to be overly dramatic, but I’m reminded of the poor soldier in the midst of a long forgotten battle who, having just had his foot shattered by a cannonball, is given a swig of whiskey and a twisted rag of cotton to bite down on as they saw off his leg. Nowhere to run, nowhere to hide.
I don’t mean to imply that I’m the poor fellow on the table, though; more like the one lying over there on a nearby pallet. Unable to escape, unable to avert his eyes, unable to plug his ears, and ultimately, powerless to do anything whatsoever to stop this horrific scene – he grits his teeth and bears it, knowing all the while that, ironically, this incomprehensible pain is somehow necessary for his friend to survive.
Nearly three weeks have gone by since this roller coaster ride through hell began, and there are now signs of light beginning to appear here and there, and they’re clearly not coming from the flames. The false veneer of what once seemed so important in the routine of everyday life has been stripped away, and the real feelings of love and remorse, buried deep within the hearts of those inside the circle of pain, are becoming visible in the bright light of day. Healing has begun
The real, the true, the deep love of family and friends pours forth like water from the rock, and quenches that thirst in all of us that nothing else can ever quite reach. Look around you and consider anew the love of those within your circle. Life may present us with much suffering, but in suffering there can also be found great joy. Remember, The Champ is rooting for you.
Second Life photo by Mick Brady