I have been thinking about something lately, well actually I have been thinking about a lot of things lately but this one thing more than most. In the most general sense I have been thinking about life. I guess it has been a kind of soul-searching, but I have been trying to come to grips with existence as a whole. I know at this point I am already starting to lose some of you, but I ask of you please follow me for a moment. Set aside all pretenses and pre-formed opinions and listen to what I have to say. Allow me to take you on a journey, if you will, through my own psyche if for no other reason than to better understand who and what I am.
I suppose it all began with the death of my father. Although I can see now that it began much earlier than that, his death was the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. I have always struggled with the idea of religion, particularly Judeo-Christian belief. I was raised to believe that there not only was a God but a place called Heaven and this was the reward for a life well lived. Many of you understand this I am sure, the idea is that one is to be rewarded for living as a good person, that there is a benevolent force that is watching all that you do and will reward you for making the right choices by a plan that it set forth. However, as I grew older I had to deal with ever-increasing amounts of pain. People that I loved abandoned me and that which I cherished most was always taken away. I don’t mean to sound like a victim but that is how I felt and in a sense that is how we all feel.
All of this searching eventually led me to Buddhism, and in the teachings of the Buddha I found something interesting. The first tenet of Buddhist belief is that life is pain. This may sound morbid or depressing but the more you think about it the truth of these words will resonate within you. No matter who you are or where you are from you have experienced pain before and will assuredly experience it again. However, it is these very moments of pain that define and shape your existence and more importantly these moments of pain are what allow you to appreciate all the good things that life has to offer. I know it sounds cliché but it is true. If you never knew heartbreak you would never be able to appreciate the many facets of love and if you never knew failure you would never understand the meaning of success.
Therefore I have come to the realization that I welcome the moments of pain that this life will bring. Not because I enjoy suffering, but because they are what allows me to understand and appreciate all of the best things that life has to offer. Everything must come to an end, that is the very notion of being mortal, but that does not mean that we cannot make the most of what we have. Maybe in the end that is what being alive is all about. Maybe it isn’t about the decisions we make as much as it is about what we choose to take from them. After all this life is all that we are guaranteed to have so why waste it worrying about what might have been?