Living in the Age of Suffering (and It's a Beautiful Thing)
Today is a monumental day for humanity. Many people, like my friends and family, will be waking up this morning with a sense of terror, wondering how and why these elections turned out the way they did. Looking through my messages, more individuals will be working through their shock and disbelief as they wonder: How did we come to this moment in time? Others will be reacting to this news in anger, lashing out and derogating those who have placed their votes. However, even through the fear, I believe this event reflects one thing: that we are living through the age of suffering, and that we are on the cusp of one of the greatest and most fundamental shifts in human thinking.
For individuals who know me well, I have survived multiple traumas over the course of my life, including depression, anxiety, abuse, and illness. Each time this happened, I genuinely wondered whether or not I had the strength to live the next day. For many years, I lived through the "victim" story, being bitter and jealous of others and constantly asking why my life ended up the way it did. It made me sad to be surrounded by friends who I had perceived to have been dealt a much better hand than mine, yearning for a different life. And when I chose not to fully show up in my personal or professional life, I would tell myself that it was because of my past: "Oh, I can't lead as an entrepreneur because I'm still processing these traumas in my life. Oh, I can't love in my relationship because I've never received love this way before." As I continued to overcome each of these of these traumas, another one would come in its place, until one day it stopped. It stopped the day I became awake, the day I owned my story and said, "Enough!"
This past weekend, I had the opportunity to attend a conference called One Last Talk, a gathering of individuals to decide our message (to the world) if it was the last day on Earth. During this conference, I became drawn to two individuals who experienced and understood immense amounts of pain like I did. A common theme that ran through these conversations was the beauty of death, not in the literal sense, but in "allowing yourself to die before you actually die." The beauty of (spiritual) death is that by dying, you begin anew without all of the baggage from your previous life.
Many people in this world go through a life of self-induced suffering, knowing (deep down!) what it is that they need to change, but not having the courage to show up and make it different. What is scary about this pain is that it slowly builds and creeps up; you hardly notice it at first. It might start out as being unhappy with your work, then it seeps into your relationships, until it affects your lifestyle, and finally your entire being. The people I worry for the most are those that are so disconnected with their heart that they are unaware they are in pain; they are the people that feel like they are stuck, that they go through life experiencing neither sadness nor joy. They have stopped feeling altogether; they are robots.
How do we fix an epidemic in which more and more of us become robots each day? We allow ourselves to live and to feel our individual (and collective) suffering, until the pain cries out and calls for us to change. Calls for us to work through the fear and the doubt because the suffering is so immense that the only path is forward. In fact, what I have found as I reflect back on my life, nothing is a coincidence, including the suffering. It is the suffering that gives us the opportunity to become strong and to discover our unique gift. Strength is not developed by living a life in which everything goes your way; strength is forged in the darkness, in the obstacles that life throws at you and urges you to step up. The beauty of hitting rock bottom is that all of a sudden, there is nothing to lose and everything becomes a possibility. A spiritual death is a blessing if we choose it to be.
Why am I making this blog post? I feel that today's historical event is not a reflection of hatred or fear, but more importantly, a reflection of suffering. A call for help. That so much of the population has been driven to darkness that they are a loss as to what to do, and that he represents (for them) a salvation, a last and desperate hope. And for many of us who have lived a better life, who have had the fortune to be conscious and awake, I call for us to work through our disappointment in order to step up once again. For us to dig deep as we listen to these voices, and to get to the root cause of this suffering. For us to start a dialogue through love and to invite them to the table to understand their suffering, so that we can help them through it. We heal our world through compassion.
Much of the media would have you believe this is the end of the world. I completely agree. I look forward to welcoming our collective and spiritual death, and to see the beauty and strength that comes from it.