These days I spend a lot of time at home as I’m recuperating from illness. I’ve had a lot of alone time with my mind. The other day I was thinking about how life has been pretty hard on my family and me lately. The difficulties have been continuous for the last two years. It has been like a volcano erupting with one chaotic event after another. As soon as things start to settle some new drastic circumstance comes into our life. I wasn’t reflecting on this in a victimy way. I was just acknowledging the past few years have been tough for me personally and I know my family has felt it too.
So there I was thinking about all this and suddenly I was overcome with GUILT. Images of people in war-torn countries flashed through my mind, and don’t forget all the starving children in Africa. I felt awful. How dare I think my life is so hard when others are suffering so much more! How hideous of me. I should never complain about any thing…EVER. But then a new realization came to me, something I have never thought of before…
The people in Libya and Somalia…their life is not my life. It’s like comparing apples to oranges. Of course I cannot begin to comprehend what a typical day for them looks like. Nor can they imagine my life. But does their existence mean my suffering is stupid and pointless and whiny? Does it mean I should not acknowledge that life is sometimes difficult for middle-class- 40-something-Americans? Is it not an issue that our country has the highest number of people on Prozac, Ritalin, and other mood enhancing drugs? I want to acknowledge that Americans suffer. I want to acknowledge that I have suffered in my own way and in my own tiny life tremendously the last few years. I want to say that suffering is a part of what it means to be human…weather you live in Beverly Hills or Chechnya.
There have been moments I felt sad about what happened to me. But I’ve never felt like a victim. I’ve never thought God was punishing me. I have tried to look for the lessons in the hardship and when I look at it that way I have learned many. We can use hardship as a transformational tool to learn and to grow. Sometimes people suffer and the lesson isn’t learned until generations later as new governments are formed, or new ways of getting food and water to people are developed. But strangely these new updated societies will create new problems, new forms of suffering and the cycle continues through eons of human evolution.
I think the point is that whatever we are struggling with in our lives that we don’t become a victim about it. We can embrace the fact that hardship is a part of life; but it is that hardship that causes us to move forward. We suffer>We adapt>We survive>We evolve. I see this in the human body as well. The body is so vulnerable and fragile. A single disease can wide out chunks of the population. Yet many people survive horrendous illness and injury. The body knows how to heal itself and its will to survive is amazing to me. Likewise it is the same for the human race. We are so fragile, so prone to war and suffering and hatred. Yet so able to create new levels of beauty and love amidst the war torn landscapes of our external world, and our internal psyches. Whether in Sudan or America we put one foot in front of the other until we are no longer able.