“As a boy, I’d learned that it’s the Latin, and maybe a Greek, word for ‘suffering’ that gives rise to our word ‘passion.’ Etymologically, the opposite of suffering is, therefore, ‘apathy’; the Passion of the Christ, say, is a reminder, even a proof, that suffering is something that a few high souls embrace to try to lessen the pains of others. Passion with the plight of others makes for ‘compassion.‘”
I just read this article at NYT and I need to discuss it. It seems to me the value of suffering is largely in what you do with it afterwards. Those who are suffering horribly (or recently) may feel little of value in the experience. I’m not suffering much currently, nor have I experienced much in the way of real tragedy. I will. And soon. But regardless, several people I know are suffering and live with it every day.
So I’m getting existential this week and wondering how do you find the courage to move on and embrace laughter again after having faced such undeniable tragedy at the core of life?
Many of my favorite authors have tried answering this with their books and even their lives. And I’ve read several who are pretty convincing. But there’s no “solution” is there? So many of my favorite books are all about this “work” of finding the ability to play again after suffering tried to convince them life could not amuse them. Ever. Again.
How could they forget or betray the truth they now knew?
Also: “Wise men in every tradition tell us that suffering brings clarity, illumination; for the Buddha, suffering is the first rule of life, and insofar as some of it arises from our own wrongheadedness — our cherishing of self — we have the cure for it within. Thus in certain cases, suffering may be an effect, as well as a cause, of taking ourselves too seriously.”
This deserves some further thought. So since it seems to be the deeper side of this morning’s Momo on “Pursuing Nothing,” I thought someone might be willing to check out the article and think about what this has for you in your life and your own book project.
Don’t feel obligated to be serious and somber, though it’s pretty much the default setting for this topic. I’m hoping for some discussion about books that are honest and fearless about the struggle for joy and laughter in the midst of pain and suffering…because to me, that’s all that makes sense to be reading and writing about. It’s just too much work otherwise.
How can we play when people are dying?
Looking forward to exploring this more with you all this week…