Suffering– The state of undergoing pain, distress, or hardship.
Do you feel, sometimes that life can really bite down hard on your soul? I think we all do. As a part of the human race we are prone to suffering. Yeah, there are so many levels of suffering that one can go through. The crazy thing is that, in the midst of suffering we all tend to forget. We forget that things will get better, things aren’t really permanently bad. And there is almost always worse suffering. For example, I think it’s safe to say the prisoners who went through the Holocaust had it pretty bad. They went through an outrageous amount of suffering, each day. Each day the suffering could be cranked up a notch or two. But each time they were surprised to find that they could handle that much more suffering. We are capable of so much, if we are just willing to persist through our suffering.
Nowadays we go through something that completely shakes our little world and we feel so overwhelmed and under-qualified to overcome suffering. So, yeah the prisoners of the Holocaust were at a level of suffering that we today, couldn’t understand. But, suffering is relative. Frankl – a Holocaust survivor, says that suffering is like a gas. You can take any sized room and put any amount of gas into it and it will spread evenly throughout. Everyone’s suffering feels as heavy as we can handle, at the time. Bismark said, “Life is like being at the dentist, you always think the worst is still to come, and yet it is over already”. I think there is something very important here because if we can’t be aware of the bigger picture than there is no hope, even for the smallest sufferings. Our suffering has opportunity woven within it and I think that is what set’s people apart. I have been in the trench of personal suffering with what felt like an unbearable load on top of me. I’m still working on freeing myself from my own design of suffering. But my suffering is unique to me, I’m coming to realize that my suffering is my task. I’m unique in my suffering, I’m alone in the crowd. Simply because, as I cannot understand yours and you cannot understand mine. No one on earth can relieve me of my suffering or suffer in my place. Therefore, my unique opportunity lies within the way I bear the burden. And that’s really the goal here, we have to find our unique opportunity within our suffering. There is a, sort of beauty in it. There was a poet who said “Was Du erlebst, kann keine Macht Der Welt Dir rauben”. Which means: What you have experienced, no power on earth can take from you. Our sufferings, no matter how bad can become something we look back on and realize ourselves through.
The key is to find your positive vehicle. Frankl found it in a list of things he would make of small events that he could look at with gratitude and a little bit of pleasure. For example one day, there was a different Capo serving soup and he didn’t play favorites, he just gave everyone the same scoop from the pan. The usual Capo would just skim the top of the soup and give everyone just a little broth except when his chosen people would come, then he would scoop from the bottom and get potatoes and carrots in the ladle. This was a big deal for him, and probably a lot of people.
Spinoza says; “Emotion, which is suffering, ceases to be suffering as soon as we form a clear and decisive picture of it.” We have to be aware first, then we can start to find our way through the pain to find the strength to get through and eventually find our purpose. Don’t become the play thing of circumstance and let the situation mold you into apostate or a state of capitulation.
Find yourself! Fight for yourself! Be yourself!
If you keep expecting from life, you’ll never fulfill what life expects from you!
Colin Nielsen (Me)