I came across a quote recently that has struck such a deep chord I need to share:
“Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional”
There is so much truth and richness in this set of words. We can all relate to pain. Physical pain, emotional pain, sometimes a longing and often accompanied by different layers of hurt and discomfort. Pain can be acute or a dull ache that never seems to end. We feel pain fully in our body and often at a very specific location.
Suffering though is something quite different. It’s wholly a manifestation of our mind, not our body. Once we realise that we create our suffering, we might also realise that we too can end our own suffering. Once we’ve flung ourselves onto the constant wheel of suffering it can seem impossible to jump off. We feel bad, the world is no longer a friendly place and we’re convinced that things won’t change. And the more certain we are of our condition, the more likely it will continue to flourish.
But perhaps you can catch yourself just for a moment and examine your spiraling thoughts and stories. Where are they coming from? As it turns out, the external world isn’t trying to cause you harm. Instead, you are the only person putting together a string of stories in your head and turning them into your own private movie to be played out across the screen of life. Once you catch a glimpse of this reality you are now in the driver’s seat and can change the direction of your thoughts.
As it turns out, what we experience depends on our own self directed outlook. So, do you know where to look for JOY versus suffering?
I feel a bit duped. Or perhaps short changed. I’ve just been diagnosed with ‘Surfer’s Eye’ and I have yet to experienced the JOY of surfing. Something is amiss! I initially thought I had suffered from a glitter incident (or glincident as Keith has offered) while helping to prepare for a 3yo birthday party. The red spot on the white bit of my eye was persistent and aggravated. But apparently I can’t blame the celebration of glitter. Fortunately the red spot wasn’t related to yoga. I had a lingering suspicion that my love of all inversions had resulted in a fragile blood vessel moving beyond its normal limits.
Nope. Its definitely surfer’s eye which is a scarring on the white of the eye that occurs from over exposure to sun, wind and sand. Hmmmm, this is all starting to add up. Most mornings I’m on the beach for a soft sand run and my commute is frequently the ferry across the harbour. And then of course there’s the reality that I’ve starting sailing a bit and my love of beachside walks is well know. Adding insult to injury, or ego, I sometimes purposefully go without my sunglasses since they leave me with a very prominent white mask around my eye area, often prompting people to ask if I’ve been away skiing.
The solution? Surgery is an option but odds are that it will come back even larger. So for now, I need to override my ego, knowing that people could assume that I’m recovering from a BIG night out, and as my wise partner has suggested “maybe you shouldn’t be so vain” and start wearing my sunnies every day and embrace the fact that I have that ‘fresh from the snow’ glow!
It struck me the other day that I often travel at the speed of blurred vision. Backgrounds merge, the edges of people and buildings are no longer defined and even the soundscape seems to fold into itself and becomes a single hum.
I’ve lived in Manly for one year and I’m quite certain there are very few shopfronts, pedestrians and trees that I’ve seen fully along the main roadway into the CBD. So, I decided to shift my perspective. I needed to be in Mosman and took public transport instead of my zippy two wheels. This afforded me the chance to walk the length of the 8kms back home to Manly. My walking pace was intentionally slow and leisurely. People, buildings, flowers and animals all came into sharp focus. I discovered a newly coveted bookstore, a stretch of sidewalk that’s given way to massive tree roots and a little botanical garden hidden away behind a hill.
If too much of life is passing by in a blur, perhaps challenge yourself to slow your pace, adjust your focus and maybe even stumble across a new place of JOY.
Yesterday I experienced an unexpected gift. I was catching the Manly Fast Ferry into the city and had paid my fare and was queuing to board the vessel. Things were at a stand still and the crew weren’t letting anyone board. Folks waiting in the queue started to get a bit restless as the minutes ticked by and still no movement. Out of the corner of my eye I saw one my favourite dock crew motioning me towards him. I reversed through the line of passengers to connect with him. He let me know the ferry was experiencing engine trouble and probably wouldn’t be leaving the dock anytime soon. He also said if I very quickly scooted over to the next dock I could catch the Big Ferry into the city and would only be delayed by 15 minutes.
On a typical day this would be a kind and thoughtful gift. But on this day it was a perfectly timed miracle since I was heading into the city for an interview and any further delay would have made my first impression one of unorganised lateness! Thrilled to switch docks I was quickly on my way when John shouted behind me “And since you’ve already paid I’ll make sure to give you a few free trips!”
JOY is definitely the headline when things unfold with such synchronicity in life. Stay open and connected to the people around you . . . you never know when they might just deliver a miracle.