The Pain of Living...
There are a lot of people I know right now suffering. Some with life threatening illness. Some with relational upheaval. Some with the most basic issues of just life doing what life does: falling apart and coming back together.
Life is painful. I am not sure why it is this way. I just know that it is. And I think that the pain of body, mind and spirit all happen so we have something to counterbalance the joy, the love and the wonderful aspects of being alive. Without the illness, injury, suffering and death, we would really not have any anchor. We need these things that are “horrible” to help us really appreciate that which is beautiful, positive and life affirming.
I guess what I am trying to say is that everything that happens to us in this life does this - each moment we are alive we get to make a choice about how we are going to live it. Are we going to let the bad things weigh us down until that is all we can see? Or can we train ourselves to take notice of the small things in life that happen everyday that make our lives better?
There are days when I wake up feeling elated, positive and it colors everything that happens to me. Then there are days that I wake up and I am irritable, tired and so the world looks worse, harder and more exhausting than usual. But I have found the practice of gratitude to be the thing that can pull me out of a slump, help me handle life altering news and can turn me away from the realities hardening my heart and soul.
Every day I wake up and write 12 things that I am grateful for. And it totally changes who I am from the inside out. I might wake up annoyed with the dogs that think that 3:30 am is a great time to go outside, but once I write down my gratitude list, I can see that I am lucky to have three dogs that love me, are mostly well behaved and are asking me for what they need. And just like that, something that was irritating and negative becomes something I am grateful for.
What I have found in life is that there is a blessing in everything. And a hardness in every gift. I have to be willing to take the good with the bad and the bad with the good. And when I do this, I am so much happier and the pains of living don’t bother me so much.
My life is amazing right now. Like I can’t believe this is the life I am getting to lead. I feel like I have won the lottery...and at the very same time I have moments of complete panic that I am going to do something to fuck it all up. That things are too good and so I wait for that proverbial other shoe to drop...
And what I have learned is that shoe is just the pain of living. It is what happens to all of us every day. There will always be pain in life. But there is also always joy and life works so much better when we do the work to seek it out rather than just fear the pain that is inevitable in this life.
Where I have landed is that when life is good and painfree, I relish in it. I wallow in it. I soak it up and take it in, like lightning bugs in a jar. Hold it tightly for just a moment, then I let it go...because that which I cling to is destined to cause me pain surely sooner than likely is necessary.
And when the hard pain of living is upon me, I am learning, slowly to embrace that too. There are lessons there that perhaps I would wish not to learn. But do I wish that others would instead? Am I that selfish that I pain I feel about whatever is going on in my life right now, I would wish away from me and onto another? No. I do not want others to suffer so that I may be free. I instead want to find peace, equanimity and joy in the pain of living, and comfort myself in the knowledge that everything changes. Pain included. Life is this wonderful unfolding of joy and sadness , love and pain. And if I spend the whole of my life seeking pleasure to avoid pain, I have largely missed the point of life at all.
For me the point of this whole deal is to love it all, to be grateful to all of life. Only then am I really living.