Suffering (pt. 1)
Is there a better way to suffer?
On absolutes to life there are at least two. The first, we are all going to die. The second, whether we like it or not we are all going to suffer. Unlike the former, suffering perpetually or episodically prevails across the life cycle and when it alights upon us, suffering can vary in form, depth and duration, that is, whether through external events or through our own internal struggles.
The statistic of 1 in 4 is commonly reported with respect to the number of individuals who in adult life will experience mental health problems. I certainly hold reservations regarding the veracity of this statistic, for example, where does it originate, how is it configured, who and who was not consulted in its compilation and what is actually been referred to. Notwithstanding, essentially it implies 3 out of 4 don’t experience whatever ‘the 1 is’. Are we talking about an ailment, an illness, feeling low for an extended period of time, being beneath par or under the weather? Whatever euphemism we employ, the truth of the matter is simply this: everyone suffers and no one escapes, and that means no one. There is no get out of jail free card. Suffering is a dynamic of existence and is indispensable with what it is to be human. What is noteworthy is how we meet our afflictions by way of trying to ensure we have a better form of it. This was Freud’s underlying endeavour: to ‘transform hysterical misery into everyday unhappiness’.
Within Irish culture most people wait until the accumulation of their suffering has reached a critical mass or crises point before acting. We have not yet cultivated an attitude toward personal distress which is reasonably healthy. We’re forever sweeping ‘stuff’ under the carpet and putting things on the back-boiler, invariably with the net result of ‘getting roasted’.
It is not only prudent but eminently wise to meet our suffering with humility, openness and courage. We are obligated to take care of, not just our bodies but also our minds.