Some days I think to myself, “it could always be worse”. But, then that thought quickly gives way to this thought, “it could always be better”. . . . “But not in this world.”
It seems that suffering, in its various and diverse forms, is our constant companion as we journey through life. (Buddha was correct – life is suffering.)
“How do we change our mindset?”, I ask myself. “How do we see past or through our own troubles and still show compassion to others who are also suffering?”
Change rarely happens like a satori moment, or sudden flash of enlightenment. One step at a time, little by little, with ongoing conscious effort we can change and become more loving human beings. But, it is not easy. The human heart and soul are like dried out clay that is very difficult to work with and shape.
When I feel despair I say to myself: “Even being an imperfect person, each of us can strive to make a positive and constructive contribution to the lives of those around us.” (Well, may be not these exacts words, but something to that effect.)
God knows my thoughts. As well, He knows that all the pain, all the tragedy, and all the injustices, all the hurt that are ever-present in this hellish world can be so very depressing to us humans. When I confide to someone close to me that I think this world is a form of Hell, they often scoff or laugh a little at my view. (I do not often confide to others how I truly think on some topics.)
The thought comes to me that we who live in the real world, who go out into it each and every day, and do battle with all of life’s challenges and obstacles (including others and ourselves) are the real warriors, the ones who posses at least some courage. Those who opt to spend their lives in a monastery or the cloistered convent – what of them? Is it an escape for them from the ugliness and harshness of the real every day world the rest of face day in and day out?
Walking across the large paved parking lot to the mega sized supermarket, a crow is cawing in the bright morning sunlight as it sits on top of an electric light pole. As I walk by this pole, I glance up and caw back at the bird. If others hear me and think I am just another crazy person in our crazy society, what is that to me? (None of them sign my pay checks, anyway, I think with a smile.)
Laughter can sometimes catch me unawares. But, I do not laugh at the expense of others. That is for the elementary school yard where young children can at times be so hateful and hurtful towards others. A moment of laughter can blunt the pain of living.
My mind wanders on to the subject of organized religion with its many adherents. “Is the faith of so many just a head game, an intellectual exercise?” I think of the fear, the guilt, the glorification of suffering, and the abuses of Church authority – and am not comforted. For faith to be of any true value, it must be lived, not merely talked about on a Sunday morning.
Yes, I will be honest with myself now. I have hurt others, terribly so at times. I have been cruel, and that is worse than merely being “insensitive”. As well, the truth is that I have been hurt by others, many times. Even by those close to me, those who I was naive enough to believe were on my side.
To lessen my disappointment with myself as I look back on my life, the thought comes that it is equally true that others have helped me . . . and that I have helped others from time to time over the years.
There are fewer years ahead of me now than are behind me.
“What of all those persons who leave this world today, still hurting?” Will they know love in another plane of existence?
I start to hum and sing the words from a song by The Guess Who from many years ago. “Time goes slowly but carries on. And, now the best years – the best years – have come and gone . . . . .”
I will work through the hurt, the wound, in my soul and soldier on each day through life come what may. Trying to remain in the present moment, because that is all any of us has.
On a future day off, have no plans for the day. Do what you feel like at the time, even if that is to take it slow and enjoy a quiet day without so much external stimuli. (Shut the cell phone off. Forget about the TV.) Let your spirit rest. It needs the occasional “down time”.
These thoughts came to me this morning. As we post this essay, it is morning in some part of the world.
The images in this post are of jello that my wife recently made for a “pot luck” at her place of employment.
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