Sometimes it does hurt to be human.
We experience pain, loss, suffering, There is a long list of emotions that make it very hard to feel good about ourselves when we are feeling bad. When bad things happen in life, sometimes we internalize that and come to believe “there is something wrong with me” or “I somehow deserve this because I am bad.”
We have many theories about why we are here having this human experience. I don’t know who is right, but I know that when we tap into difficult feelings and acknowledge them, we plant the seed of compassion in our hearts. When we see someone suffering, that seed begins to take root and sprout. Our own memory of pain reminds us to reach out and offer comfort. We use our physical bodies as demarcations that say we are separate, but our emotional experiences tell us we are not. Because we understand each other. We are connected in the human experience.
There is an alchemy in these interactions. The difficult experiences we struggle with begin a series of reactions, both within the self and with others. They string a line of connection for community. They help us reach out to each other, and they inspire acts of love. To offer a hug, a listening ear, and words of reassurance and patience. And if we listen with the heart, it can teach us to reach deeper into our well of compassion, so that we can learn to be kind to ourselves…which is sometimes harder than being kind to others.
“There is something wrong with me” becomes “I am having a human experience.” “I am bad” becomes “I am a person deserving of love.”
In these interactions, the experience of pain is transforming from suffering to love.
Perhaps that is what is so magical about being human. We can wander around in darkness and still identify light. We are willing to wallow in the mud and embrace the lotus. We have the capacity to transform when we confront fear and sorrow. And the result is that we become even more resilient and loving versions of who we are.
When you are going through a difficult period, please be gentle. Know it is important to acknowledge the pain and to be in it, just for now. Trying to push it away will delay and compound the suffering that will rear up again. Rather, invite others in. It is normal. It is human. It is alchemy.
Here’s to community.