"Whatever pain and suffering our life has borne, we must nevertheless be thankful. He who is afraid of suffering is also afraid of joy." Lou Andreas-Salome (1861-1937)
I love this quote and the insight it offers, as it resonates deeply with my own life experiences. Lou Andreas-Salome's words reflect a simple yet profound understanding: that the avoidance of pain and suffering leads to a debilitating retraction from the joy of living; and that, conversely, accepting their inevitability is incredibly liberating.
She who loves most deeply will also be capable of feeling the greatest pain. She who shrinks from that pain will not allow herself to love freely. Loving unreservedly engenders a state of gratitude for the lessons we learn in life, even when they hurt.
The transmutation of pain and suffering into understanding can build incredible strength, character, and courage, and also increase one's ability to experience joy and thankfulness.
Pain and suffering offer hidden gifts when we invest our energy in discovering and embodying the messages they bring. Pain is a messenger. When we listen to it we gain insight - insight we can use to inform and improve our lives.
Shrinking back from the threat of sorrow or loss is a movement away from life. Expansion into any experience, and becoming more open and permeable to it, is a rich source of true learning. In this spirit, one will not seek out unpleasant experiences, but neither will one withdraw or demur for fear of projected consequences.
I'd love to live in a world where nobody need ever suffer pain or hardship again, and where everyone could be joyously free. In the absence of that world, and whilst doing what we can to bring it into being, we can do our best to share insights and reach out to others who yearn for autonomy and true connection. Paradoxically, I would not be the individual I am today without having borne my share of sadness. I have lived through sufficient pain and suffering to learn to appreciate the gifts they have brought to me, and the joy I feel in the simplest aspects of being alive is massively deepened because of them.
If you're in pain, or suffering emotionally, physically or mentally, please know that this phase will pass and that it has much to offer in terms of growth, even if it's hard to see right now. Please reach out for help, and take the time to celebrate the things for which you are thankful. Most of all, remember to look within yourself - and get outdoors whilst doing so if possible! - for the most profound guidance of all is to be found there if only one listens attentively enough.
(If you'd like to find out more about Lou Andreas-Salome, you might want to check out this Blog post about her. Muse to the likes of Nietzsche and Rilke, she was really a remarkable character!)
Stream of consciousness ramblings, artings, happenings and brain droppings