8/2/13

We Are Not Entitled to A Wonderful Life

I read this quote on a blog post recently:

You were not born to struggle. You were not born to live a life where the moments of joy are few and far between. You were not born to toil in your work five days a week, with fleeting moments of happiness on weekends. You were not born to live with limited energy, feeling exhausted at the end of each day. You were not born to worry or be afraid. You were not born to suffer. What would be the point of your life? You are meant to experience life to its fullest and have everything you want and, at the same time, be filled with joy, health, vitality, excitement, and love, because that is an amazing life. — Rhonda Byrne

Life has great beauty. Being a human on the journey of living is nothing short of amazing and inspiring. Sometimes the simplest of things, the fragrance of a flower wafting into the blazing noise and heat of yard chores, can bless us with the pleasure of the moment and make life sacred. Or we might find ourselves marveling at the grandeur of nature as a majestic suns bows victoriously, closing the curtain on a rich and bountiful day. Life's beauty is found all around us. There are too many ways to recount. Consider these...

The giggles of children
The gentle weight of a grandparent's hand resting in yours
The attentive compassion of a friend who is moved to tears by your sharing
The exhaustion after a long hike that wandered through glorious vistas
The simple...rhythm...of the sea...bathing the sand...

You can, and I hope you will, add to this list. Yet, despite my deep and enduring belief in the value and commanding beauty of our living, I find myself aggravated by the quote above. Here's why....

Byrne says:

You were not born to struggle.
You were not born to worry or be afraid.
You were not born to suffer.
You are meant to have everything you want



Really? Does this make any sense at all? Aside from the obvious inequitable distribution of resources and opportunities in third world countries making such a global assertion insane, is this really true? Is life meant to be all roses? What of the hard won affirmations of a number of spiritual traditions that proclaim suffering is embedded in the very nature of our existence? What of the notion that it is not getting what we want but rather an acceptance of our part in the midst of real scarcity, our role in a larger picture, that brings life value? I'm sick of platitudes and hollow affirmations

The only people I've ever met who truly affirmed such crap were either suffering from drug induced euphoria or mentally unstable, walking around in denial of the abuse and pain of their own living.
AND
Sometimes I don't really need to get what I want because my wants are selfish, limited and in truth, harmful to others and myself.

Yes, joy and serenity are worthy pursuits. Yes, being happy most of the time and unhappy only seldom is a better way of life, but are any one of us really entitled to such a life? Aren't the philosophical and theological goals of this life more about finding, achieving, accepting one’s life in the particular context of this moment, this occasion of our living? Beauty is all around us, and so is suffering (and the most grotesque of human malformation) and all of this intersects our living. Is anyone really meant to walk only among the beauty, insulated from pain and tragedy?

It is my experience that the very struggles of my living were and to some degree are a part of my necessary path, my grinding and beautiful life. The quote above speaks as if the suffering is unnecessary, even an indicator of our mistake. We were born to suffer, to toil and to mature in wisdom, compassion and strength. It is not as if there is some short cut, some life hack that we can claim or understand to allow us to omit such journeys. Such an affirmation isn't realistic and is insulting to people who have suffered – especially those who have suffered because of the consequences of someone else’s choices. Stop this insane spouting of platitudes and get real. People deserve more.

Instead let’s develop a methodology for living that empowers us to move through it all – pain, failure, ecstasy and victory – with a level of acceptance and peace that this particular journey is ours to live. Yes, we do get to make choices and learn, but no matter what – we do not get and are not entitled to a free pass through life. I think we owe it to ourselves and others to start acting like it.





2 comments:

  1. Three thoughts developed in my head after reading this Kim.

    Success in life is less of how easy or hard life is and more of how we handle the blessings or the struggles of life that is creates success.

    Furthermore life without ups and downs, challenges and successes, even, good and evil, would not be life, it would instead be a fantasy.

    It's the lows of life, some lower than others, that give us a measure and desire for the highs, some higher than others.

    Thanks for the poke buddy

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. it is about perspective. Buddha contended that the first of the 4 noble truths is simply, "Life is suffering."

      Delete

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