suffering what does it mean

Suffering, What Does it Mean?

My son puts on a sad face every day before leaving for school. He laments the fact that he has to spend the better part of a day holed up inside a box.

One of the reasons my son dislikes going to school so much is because he does not make connections as quickly or as efficiently as most of the other kids do. And this is because of how differently his brain is wired. He needs more time to do the same things the other kids do. But no one understands this and automatically assumes that he must do what the others can do.

The sum of all of this, is that my son suffers through school every day. And the only person who has an iota of his suffering is sitting far away, in the comfort of home, a place where he would rather be.

But go to school he must. And try to make the connections he must. As I try to figure out ways to help him out of his suffering, it hits me that for as hard as I try, I cannot take on his suffering.

Suffering is very relative

Sometimes, my friend and I sit down to complain about our married lives. However, we always end it with a sacred whisper of how much better off we were when compared to most others around us.

What is suffering for you, would make me raise my eyebrows in surprise wondering – “Dude, seriously! What is your problem, here? I don’t see one. You are whining about going to a boring workplace every day, while there are kids out there who have been trapped inside caves.”

The suffering of being trapped in a boring workplace does indeed pale in comparison to the suffering of kids who were trapped inside a cave. But, it does not mean that the former’s suffering is not real. Besides, how can we judge something that we don’t feel?!

My father suffered from a renal failure. While he was down physically, he was a jolly, good fellow. My mother-in-law, on the other hand, is perfectly fine physically, but suffers emotionally from the understanding of living an unfulfilled life. My mother was an all-round sufferer who not only suffered from physical ailments, but also from emotional issues arising from an acknowledgement of continuous suffering.

That is why suffering is always relative.

So, why is suffering in place?

If we had a chat with the good old Almighty and asked him why he has created us to suffer, he would probably shrug his shoulders and go something like this.

“What’s a story without a problem to solve? What’s a life without a challenge to overcome? Don’t you want your story to turn out into an interesting one?!”

It is indeed true that the best stories belong to the ones who have suffered and overcome their suffering. The story of Oprah Winfrey. Or the story of that guy who overcame his depression. And the story of the now famous but once upon a time struggling actor. The most interesting stories are built through a period of suffering and trying to overcome that suffering.

Apart from the theory that there could indeed be an Almighty consciousness that is silently watching our stories unfold, suffering, through its unwanted absurdity, builds something within us. And this is called resilience.

How does this happen?

Yesterday, my friend and I were discussing the tragic case of a famous DJ who committed suicide at the tender age of 21. We tried to get inside his mind, wondering what could have caused him to take the final step. My friend suggested that the pressure to perform could be one reason. Her husband intervened declaring that how would we know? How would we know what is cause of their suffering?!

It was at this point that my friend added a sentence. “People who have undergone suffering and hardships are better built for moving ahead in life.” She would know because she herself had undergone a period of intense depression during her teen years. She came through to crave out her own, successful path in life. If she enjoys the little moments of her life today, she owes it to her initial awakening moments that were brought upon through the cruel phase of suffering.

When we think about it, people who work hard to achieve have a better appreciation of life than the ones with the Midas touch, who, like the original Midas from the story, often end up hurting themselves through their magic touch. This is also the reason why the exercise of mental intelligence in the absence of emotional intelligence is highly dangerous.

Life is an experience, and experience is the best teacher. The experience of a suffering instills a deep memory within the brain that can be automatically recalled during periods of future crisis. This equips us with the ability to carry on our walk through the journey called Life.

Are you glorifying suffering?!

As the world runs in search of happiness trying to turn a part of life into a whole, it does us good to understand that happiness is something that we treat ourselves to. And just like the intention behind a treat is a reward, so is the intention behind happiness. It is a reward that we look forward to savor after the end of a hard day’s work, a period of intense emotions, and the end of a fulfilling life.

When life itself is not a constant, how can anything about life become a constant?! Our life is packed with different experiences. It is only natural that we experience different emotions as well. Suffering and sadness is as integral as excitement and happiness. While we can try to run away from suffering, it will always catch up with us in the strangest of ways.

As long as we keep walking, just like everything else about life, this too shall pass…

Here’s to developing the ability to Overcome and experiencing our story!


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