Here is an article from the New York Times on Suffering.
It poses some interesting questions and makes some cogent observations. He is correct when he says that you crash through the floor of your personality, into deeper and deeper zones of the unknown. What we do with this varies according to the individual. There is potential for rediscovery here, but it takes an agonizing amount of work and persistence. There are degrees of suffering and the causes are myriad. There are some commonalities and many differences. All in all, a worthwhile read.
“…suffering gives people a more accurate sense of their own limitations, what they can control and cannot control. When people are thrust down into these deeper zones, they are forced to confront the fact they can’t determine what goes on there. Try as they might, they just can’t tell themselves to stop feeling pain, or to stop missing the one who has died or gone.”
I’m torn by the idea of suffering being ennobling.
On the one hand, it’s quite true that my favorite people suffer quite appallingly. They speak truth at the highest cost. Nothing they say is cheap. Every word is paid for in pain. I hang by those words. Many times they feel like the only narrow ledges slowing the free fall. Noble? Yes, they are. Far beyond noble.
On the other, the very idea is offensive. Because I – wrongly? – war with the suggestion that any supposed “compensation” in nobility could be worth it.
No. It could not. I would rather you had Jake, alive. I would rather those suffering various tortures – death, disease, betrayal – not have to endure them. I bristle at the Minimizer’s Toolbox (my husband’s term) where people to say, “Well, at least…” and “It could be worse…” and “Look on the bright side…”
Thank you for sharing the article. Worth reading. I am more in agreement than not. I certainly get that deep, unavoidable suffering changes us. Permanently.
I have a feeling you were noble before Jake died. I hope no one tries to tell you his death was worth ANY amount of nobility or supposed up-side. There is no compensation precious enough – nothing short of bringing him back, well and whole.
If only that could happen. If only.
Cathy, I agree that suffering isn’t inherently noble, and no amount of “earned nobility” if there is such a thing, is worth the price. I, too would rather have Jake back even if I had to give back my implied nobility; there is nothing on this earth, or in this life that can compensate for his death. There is no “bright side” to look on; I reject the Minimizers wholeheartedly. What struck me about the article was the profound change those of us who have suffered some great trauma go through. How we are altered for ever. That it causes a reevaluation of yourself, and opens up the sub-basement of your psyche, not necessarily that it is worth the cost. As for my own supposed nobility, I am nothing special, just a man trying to get through life. Both before and after. We all are that, just getting by now.