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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in suffering

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
A Very Pagan Kind of Pain

 “The very great virtue of the Old Ways is that they see the world as it is, not as they wish it were.”

(Alain Daniélou)

 

Life is full of pain.

That's what my grandmother would say when you skinned your knee, or grated a knuckle along with the cheese.

(“A little blood makes everything taste sweeter,” was another of her ungainsayable sayings.)

As I've grown older, I've found myself saying the same. As an observation, it's hard to fault.

A friend once accused me of closet Buddhism on the basis of this saying. If I were the kind of person who took easy offense, I would have been offended. So far as I'm concerned, Buddhism is just another damned missionary religion, may they all rot.

But he was wrong, so I let it go by. Life is full of pain.

No, there's nothing Buddhist about this simple saying. This is a pagan Life is full of pain through and through, pragmatically acknowledging the way that things are and then getting on with it.

The expression lends itself to ready irony. When things are merely irritating, or merely inconvenient, it means: it could be worse. Which, of course, is usually true.

And when it addresses real pain instead, it gives perspective. No pain is unique. In pain, as in joy, we always have fellows.

Yes, it hurts, I know, but you'll get through. Yes, it's inconvenient, but it could be so much worse; just accept it and get on with it. Are you going to let a little pain stop you? Come on, you're bigger than that, and besides, there's dinner to make.

No, this is a life-affirming Life is full of pain. Yes there's pain, but there's joy, too. If you're lucky, they'll balance each other out. If not, well...when there's joy, then savor it all the more, knowing that that won't last either.

There's an incompetent in the White House, the country has lost its way, and I don't look nearly as good naked as I used to. Life is full of pain. There it is, and we get on from there as best we may.

Life is full of pain, but the implication is not: Therefore, life is no good. The implication is: Savor, then, while you may.

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Offer It Up

I stood on a subway platform as trains roared by, oblivious, paralyzed. I had been frozen by a brief, polite encounter with a former co-worker, a few weeks after I’d been laid off from my very first job, as a community college English teacher. My last set of students—young men in practical disciplines — had filled their evaluations with comments on my dress and appearance: “She should wear shorter skirts.” “She should wear more make-up.” It was decided my relationship with them had been “too personal", and my contract was not extended. Standing on the platform, remembering all this, a renewed sense of shame burned in my heart.

 

Over the years I would understand what happened better, with a more sophisticated eye. But at the time I was looking for emergency first aid. And I found it in the practice of “offering it up.”

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Carol P. Christ
    Carol P. Christ says #
    loved that
  • Archer
    Archer says #
    Thank you. That's high praise from someone I so admire.

Posted by on in Paths Blogs
The Amber Necklace

I won a set of brown beads in a raffle. They were simple and pleasing, warm to the touch. To my surprise, they turned out to be amber, understood by the ancients as both a kind of solidified sunlight and as the tears of a goddess.

 

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Archer
    Archer says #
    I've always said reincarnation is the only explanation for the talents of both my kids! Thanks for the kind words Ted!
  • Ted Czukor
    Ted Czukor says #
    This is beautiful, Archer. So well thought-out and integrated. What a wonderful avatar your child is; and yet we are told that s

Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Pain

A few times in my life I’ve been gifted with untreatable pain and now is one of them. These days I’m lying awake at night, unable to find a tolerable position, obsessing about what is wrong with me and how it might be getting worse. Promising to fix myself tomorrow with better diet, more meditation, increased self-awareness—bemoaning whatever failure of self-care led to the problem in the first place. Unable to concentrate during the day, experimenting with various combinations of food, drink and drugs to escape sensations that continue to demand my attention. Forced to acknowledge that I am getting older, decaying in my own skin. Fretting about how this makes me less of a companion, less of a teacher, less of a person.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Ted Czukor
    Ted Czukor says #
    I trust that you are doing better by now. I, too, have found that writing about an experience can assist in enduring all sorts of
  • Archer
    Archer says #
    So true! Thanks for your kind thoughts.
  • Ted Czukor
    Ted Czukor says #
    Dear Archer, I'm so sorry to hear of your pain and hope your doctors find a speedy remedy. But yes, you are right that anyone and
  • Archer
    Archer says #
    Dear Ted: I love your Shakespeare quote! Yes I do not appreciate too much advice at this point, though the blog is bound to provok

Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Waking Up

 

A darkened chapel. A leather-clad villain holds his victim by the throat, ready to slit her open. Another man creeps closer, gaze steady, voice intent, trying to talk him out of it. Finally the rescuer urges: 

 

“You can choose to hide in your nightmares. Or you can choose to wake up.”

 

The screen flickers as I pause the recording. I know I will rewind and re-watch. For the rescuer’s words came as if addressed to me.

 

Not that I’m intent on murder. But I am familiar with nightmare.

 

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Sympathy for the Devil

Sure, I love bad boys. They’re sexy, rebellious, often funny, deliciously scary.  But why I really love them? Because they’re honest. Because they know how to suffer. On those days when Facebook is filled with “humble brags” and Pollyanna affirmations, I find myself on the side of those who aren’t afraid to complain. 

 

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