Friday, September 14, 2007

It's All In Your Head...

I spent some time yesterday thinking about suffering.

I'll admit it, I'm a little old lady- I occasionally struggle with sciatica and it was especially bad yesterday on my walk home from class. I felt a little bit like Igor dragging my foot behind me.
I know, I'm being over-dramatic...but you get the point.

But it got me thinking- what is suffering really?

We toss that word around sometimes without thinking. Suffering, for me, is nothing compared to the suffering of someone in say a conflict-ridden area of Africa.

But is there a hierarchy of suffering? Is my pain any less valid because of what I was born into?

Is the mental suffering many of us Americans struggle with less valid than the physical suffering of those in third-world countries?

I want to alleviate suffering. To devote my life to bringing peace to those around me.
Africa might be a bit hard for me to help all by myself at this point in my life.
So I'll start with an ice pack and my good friends and work from there.

1 comment:

Paul said...

About 5 years ago I experienced what it means to have a herniated disk. The pain, which manifested in my right thigh, was intractable. Meditating through it was impossible. Once the pain began to diminish, however, it took a year or so for the other symptoms to leave me alone. The pain is a memory - I know I had it, but I can no longer feel it.

But I recall how grateful I was for the experience, simply because I had the opportunity to participate in something so extreme and so common.

I know that millions and billions of people also know pain day to day. I often forget that, just as I have forgotten my own pain. I was lucky enough to have recovered - this time. Some people aren't so lucky.

All suffering is valid. All suffering is subjective. But if one is paying attention, one knows that suffering is universal and therefore objective. And maybe that knowing is what compassion is about.