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Sunday, February 5, 2012

Is the Chase Worth the Pain?

After finishing the fabulous "The Fault in our Stars" by John Green, I tackled another of his Young Adult novels, "Looking for Alaska." I admire his ability to intertwine deep philosophical ideas into his work by simply using a phrase, a snippet of dialogue, or a quote. There is no agenda. No proselytizing. No abuse of his platform. Instead, the little bits add depth to both his characters and the story, in addition to making you stop and think.

While reading "Alaska," I read this quote: "The Buddha said that suffering was caused by desire...and that the cessation of desire meant the cessation of suffering." Obviously he's referring to self-imposed suffering, and not that which occurs due to circumstance, natural disaster, or illness. There is no escape from that type of suffering. I believe he's referring to the type of suffering we often impose on ourselves. It can be financial suffering that didn't result from the loss of a job, but from consumption beyond our means. Bigger homes, nicer cars, expensive clothes. Wii's, Kindles, iPods, iPhones...the list is long.

We experience other types of self-imposed suffering, rooted mainly in our desire for love and acceptance. My father and I suffer as a result of our desire to have a relationship with my mom. Her disease has robbed us of her words, her smile, her wisdom, and her mean, Southern home-cooking. When we're with her, our hearts ache because we want her with us. Not even death will dissolve the suffering because we'll continue to miss her. Of course, this suffering was imposed by her illness, but only in the absence of a desire for a relationship with her would we find freedom from that pain.

Others suffer from broken relationships, broken dreams, and broken checking accounts. Freedom from that suffering could only be found in letting go of that love, that friend, that aspiration. Letting go to simply sit in a place of empty contentment. But is this living? We sometimes need to let go of certain desires. But the ones that cause the greatest (again, self-imposed) suffering stem from relationship and the pursuit of a dream. If we let go of those things, our suffering might ease. But so will our quality of life. We should seek to mend broken relationships and continue to pursue a better future for ourselves and our children. Happiness and pain are two sides of the same coin. We can't know happiness without knowing sadness. And we can't appreciate the light without having been in the dark.

So I will continue in my desire to have "The Beauty of Grace" published, either traditionally or as an ebook, despite the frustration that inevitably accompanies this pursuit. Because the desire exceeds that frustration. The Pain is worth the Gain.

I will also never stop missing my mom. Even though it splits my heart in two.

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