A Daydream on Suffering
Ask anyone that knows me, I’ve always been an avid fan of martyrdom; the romantic version of it, sans the actual pain, loss and suffering. My greatest heroes can be found in stories of old and in my mother and father and aunts (literally only my aunts deserve the credit here) that gave no thought to how but provided me with all that was necessary.
There are so many ideas about what is truly important in life and I find that we often think that only the lives we fashion for ourselves are true, our individual feelings standing paramount, believing that these spaces that we carve out for ourselves and our loved ones are all there is, all there should be and all that matters. We only ever briefly consider everything else when it suits us or when we are forced to, never questioning how all the things we found in place came to be and whether we actually need them. This is nothing new I know, an old speech heard in the corridors of life but it is always these obvious truths that somehow manage to go in and out our minds without much ceremony. Today as I was daydreaming of martyrdom I found myself lingering on suffering, reflecting upon it thusly:
Time is not relative. We exist in our own versions of it thinking that that the only time that matters is our own. For all the talk that we do about the future we seldom act on it or do so only as far as it affects our present. From our births to our deaths we live shackled by the idea that everything we are is born when we are and dies when we do. You see it don’t you, how wrong we really are. So many things that exist because of us outlive us, some by mere minutes others by centuries. The effect that we have on the world as individuals and cumulatively as societies stretches beyond our own capabilities and sure this is hard to grasp but stopping it is certainly not the answer.
An idea that is born from us is never completely known to us; often it has consequences that go beyond our imaginings. More tangible still, our offspring that initially depend on us to live evolve and grow into beings that are so similar and yet so different from us that we can only wonder in their direction. Our concept of time tethers us to our own time and distracts us from all other things. Our birth can change time forever so naturally the right thing to do it seems is to accept that everything we do does not just affect us but has the power to affect the whole universe. We must learn that a purpose must be ascribed to all our deeds and not just drift along, because once we grasp purpose, we gain understanding. Purpose provides us with context; the Why, and only when we understand the Why can be pick the correct How. If we do this then maybe there is a chance that we can understand why at times we must suffer, why we must lose in our lifetime so that others don’t have to in theirs. Now sure those with children will grasp this concept easily but what about those without? I propose that anyone who has ever loved will see the merit in my stance. Our sacrifice may be forgotten or go unnoticed altogether but the effects that such actions could have on the lifetimes of others will be self-evident (and hey even if it doesn’t turn out the way you would have hoped, you will be dead and none the wiser, having died peacefully with the knowledge that you did all you could). But seriously I believe it is essential to also believe in the outcome that you hoped for and so if you are like me you will rest twice as easily (if that is even possible) because you will know that you achieved something far greater than your mortal life permitted.
And finally unlike time suffering is relative don’t be a douche by pretending that you understand the suffering of others, the good thing is that you do not have to understand why they suffer to ease their suffering.