We live on an Island a few miles west of downtown Seattle, Washington. The horrific news this week of the massive and sudden mudslide a few miles northeast of Seattle, in the small town of Oso, is very close to home. With instant global news, we can experience suffering from cataclysmic world events. When it hits close to home, the suffering can be more intense and very real.
Suffering is an unavoidable part of the human experience. It’s a false promise of the modern world (at least in developed countries) that if we work hard, get a good job, have loving relationships and be a good person, we will feel fulfilled and happy without the suffering. The reality is suffering is an ongoing cycle inherent to life on earth.
Suffering is to be known and responded to wisely, rather than denied or rejected. Wanting to live above the fray and not feel the suffering is a ploy we humans use to manage our pain. If we fear being victimized by suffering we may minimize how we feel. With this strategy we will suffer more and shut off access to compassion for ourselves and others when we deny suffering’s existence.
There is a difference between the actual suffering and our response to it. A clear difference lies in the fact that, from time-to- time we all are victims of pain and suffering. The family and friends, who lost loved ones and their homes in the disastrous mud slide, have been victimized by the circumstances.
Even when loss or tragedy hits close to home we do not need to identity with the victim mentality even though that may be our first instinct. A Creator accepts that suffering is part of the circle of life and bears it with compassion and kindness. By asking for support and admitting the depth of their pain, Creators allow others to support them rather than isolate or believe they must go it alone.
By acknowledging losses, and grieving them when they occur, we can journey into a new relationship with the aspects of life we don’t like. It is paradoxical, that by accepting suffering as part of life, we are able to ease the burden and eventually bring closure to the pain.
As a Creator responding to the unwelcome Challengers that ignite suffering, we can still choose our response, which includes acknowledging our grief and asking for help, and take whatever small Baby Steps that will eventually move us forward. Our hearts go out to those who are suffering from the Oso tragedy, and so many daily misfortunes small and large, that are part of the human experience.