Life is Suffering

Life is suffering. No this is not a poem, this is a lens of reality. While I acknowledge life is beautiful, life is art, life is magic, life is everything – I sometimes think about the opposite. The counter. The dark side.

This is not supposed to be a sad/negative take on the world. Indeed, it is an optimistic take. It is a realistic take that the world is evil, full of darkness, and challenging.

It is positive in that recognizing that obstacles do exist – that evil is a fundamental component of life – is the first step in understanding.

I do not pretend to be some prophetic philosopher understanding all that is (or is not) holy in the world. These, as are all my essays, ramblings and explorations. I am learning.

I am asking questions about the darkness, the suffering.

Why do we avoid suffering? Why do we not embrace darkness? Why are the “good guys always good and the bad guys always bad.” Is it wrong to prefer the bad guys?

(For the record, I have always been more fascinated by the “winning team” – the good guys, but part of me has always had an itch to better understand the dark side).

The first uncomfortable fact avoided by Western society – my upbringing – is that suffering is a part of life.

From the moment we are born to the moment we die, there is someone else on this earth in pain. In fact, in every moment there is an individual, a citizen, someone sitting in an unfortunate place. There is unjust crime, terror, dictatorship all across the world. There are babies dying. People starving. The world being destroyed.

And the clock is ticking.

That is suffering.

There is also internal suffering. Throughout life, we toil..There are cheery parts of life (for which we celebrate often), but there are also many dark parts…

There are components of life with inevitable runs of blood, sweat, and tears. We have all been there. We have all lived there – in the darkest corner of the room. We all know people there.

I am not talking about depression (a serious mental condition). I am talking about the “not so cheery” yet critical parts of life that make the world whole.

How do we appreciate the nice parts without understanding the bad parts? How do we interpret good if we do not know what bad is? How would we know Superman is the hero if there were no villains?

I am not saying that this suffering is fun. I am not saying that suffering should be the goal. Indeed, I avoid suffering often.

But what I am saying, or at least trying to communicate (in my own head) is that suffering is not the worst case. Life is suffering. Life is about overcoming and understanding suffering.

If we procrastinate challenges or hard moments or dark spaces, they only become worse.

If we tackle them, approach them with joy and optimism, then perhaps I (and we) have a better fighting chance.

I find it important to emphasize that challenges should not be avoided. In fact, I think we need more people taking on harder problems. We need more impossible battles. We need more good.

But we also need to understand more bad. We need to dive deep into suffering to understand what we do not want out of this world. We need to dive deep into the dark side in order to build the light.

We cannot build the light alone. We cannot build the light in a bubble. If we do, we will not have accomplished any meaningful goal. We will have built for ourselves and ourselves only.

Most importantly, we will not have diminished any suffering in this world, only protected our own.