Friday, August 26, 2011

Lessons learned, or, the Zen of Suffering

 When I woke up today, I realized I just learned something. Through talking to my friends and family, including some old friends I never really expected to hear from, I realized that many people have been talking about how strong we are, and how well we are dealing with all of this.

 I didn't really see us as dealing well with this. We spent a lot of days crying and shouting, and yelling at God, and bitching about how unfair it all was. And it is. Life is totally unfair. I can think of roughly 1400 inmates I know who totally deserve cancer more than my wife. I also realize at this point, that I wouldn't wish cancer on anyone either. It is the great equalizer. Young or old, rich or poor, it doesn't matter. Cancer sees no races, it kills indiscriminately. It's unfair to everyone.

 But a few weeks ago, I let my anger go. One night after I took myself off of my anti-depressants, I had a moment where I visualized a Sith version of myself being sealed off. It is geeky, really geeky, but it worked for me. I told him I didn't need his destructive anger anymore. I didn't need the Dark Side, as it were.

 Now, onto the lesson I learned.  I have been noticing there are a lot of spots that Bushido and Christianity cross paths. (Read Bushido, The Soul of Japan by Nitobe Inazō) And this particular spot is dealing with suffering gracefully. As Americans, we are bad at that. Especially this generation. We really suck at it. We have this sense of entitlement that is rampant (some worse than others), and if we don't get what we want out of life, stand the hell by.

 The Japanese were always, as a culture better with that. Nitobe pointed that out in his work, and I trust his viewpoint, as he was a Japanese Quaker from the turn of the century. I trust he knows what he was talking about. But if you want a more modern example, just compare Katrina and the Tsunami/Earthquake/Nuclear Holocaust in Japan.

 Who dealt with it better? Any looting in Japan? Anyone floating out giant screen televisions? Nope. People got in line and did what was expected of them.

 It is the whole philosophy of suffering well. We can look at it as dealing gracefully with life. I am by no means a master of it, but I am learning.

 And learning, like everything else is a gradual process. One day at a time.

 One foot in front of the next.

 True courage is to live when it is right to live. - Nitobe

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