An unbelievable little trick

Zion National Park in the Fall


Autumn in Zion National Park, Utah (2019)

Let’s face it: more often than not, we catch ourselves bitching about stuff. We complain about our jobs (or lack of them), about the little pay we get, or the long hours we put into those jobs, we complain about the traffic, the miserable cold weather, or the unbearable humidity, or the sixty five days in a streak without seeing a cloud in the sky (move to Los Ángeles and you will know what I am talking about), we complain about politics and the current White House host (yes, reasonable people have good reasons to reject a self serving president), we abhor becoming sick with a flu virus.

All right. In the big context of things, our complaints amount to nothing. We all know that, in the bottom of hearts. But, more importantly, these kind of negative life perceptions are extremely blinding and they suck our energy out. We are left with no desire to appreciate the countless other things that are going well and among them the not-to-be-disdained and almost miraculous fact that we are simply alive.

None of us asked for this life, it’s true. In many ways, it’s an unwanted gift. But, heck, we do have it, it was given to us and now we have to run with it. And since we have it, let’s recognize that, at times, life is painful. It’s supposed to be. That’s an inevitable fact. In his book about running, Haruki Murakami summarizes it this way: “Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional”. Thus the importance of acceptance and embracing the whole universe as it is, without us attempting to interfere in the way things are.

How about the big stuff? Things like a terminal disease or poverty. For sure, those are very, very painful circumstances. Hey, I am not trying to minimize any of these difficulties. Unfortunately, many of our fellow humans are going RIGHT NOW through terrible testing conditions. Let us be real:  we are ALL going to live through very distressing times, at one point or another in our lives, most likely as we approach old age. The recipe, though, is the same: accept, accept, accept!  That’s exactly how you circumvent suffering. That’s how you get to finish a marathon. It’s a little devious trick. An unbelievable simple and clever trick taught by spiritual teachers around the world and…. professional runners! *


  1. What I gather from this essay on the inevitability of vicissitudes is that a certain level of resignation pays big rewards. Suffering as a choice that one makes is an arguable statement, as lack of it seems to me humanly impossible.
    Murakami in its What I Talk About When I Talk About Running expresses some vague ideas on the subject that I want to revisit apropos of this piece.


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