Without pain, without sacrifice, we would have nothing. - Fight Club
On a recent visit to the gym I came across a blackboard quote at the entrance that said, “Pain is weakness leaving the body”. While this attempts to stimulate a renewed focus on fitness and physical strengthening it completely misses the point.
Pain is not weakness leaving the body, it is the bodies warning system informing you of an internal suffering that is the result of a distressing feeling often caused by intense or damaging stimuli. These unbearable feelings move us to find some kind of remedy in order to alleviate the affliction. Yet because it comes in many shapes and sizes it can often be difficult to locate its source and eradicate its affect. Its illusiveness speaks to the complex nature of suffering that we all experience.
While I tend to see pain as an enemy intruder who is trying to disrupt my physical, emotional or psychological well-being, it can also be a friend who is trying to alert me to a bigger need going on in my life. Suffering is the universal complaint of the human condition that we must learn to accept and assimilate. If I am not careful I might try to avoid or brush off this inconvenient interruption and miss the valuable lessons we can learn in difficult times.
Suffering and pain are a reminder that life is a complex mix of uncertainty and unpredictability that randomly arrives without warning. The Buddha says that pain is inevitable but suffering is optional especially if we can let go of those narcissistic desires that self pleasure our egos.
It is always by way of pain that one arrives at pleasure. - Marquis de Sade
Pain and suffering are inevitable, yet in their own way they journey us toward moments of pleasure that feed into our happiness. Pleasure is the natural medication that momentarily alleviates our discomfort, distracting us long enough to feel the relief of contentment and hopefulness. Even the most excruciating pain can be dulled by a pleasurable feeling of rapture and gratification.
‘Carry each others burdens…..’
As fellow sufferers we can all help to support others who are overwhelmed by the burdens that they carry. While we may not be able to take away their pain we can be conduits of empathy and sympathy, a reminder to others that they are not alone or unnoticed in their dilemma.
When the weight of pain is at its peak, ravaging your concentration and overcoming your sensibilities, know that it will pass because there is something bigger and more beautiful governing the universe.
God gave us pain to remind us we are alive, so we will learn to value the joys and beauty of the world.
- Tom Corr