I’m finding the early hours of the morning quite fruitful for philosophical thought. What once would have been the frantic scribbling of an idea in a notebook with bleary squinting eyes in the darkness (only to be proven unreadable, unremarkable, or forgotten come morning light) as once again driven me to put on the kettle, make another cup of mint tea, and to pull my laptop out
The importance, or the value, of this blog has stymied me for years, as my own self worth and drive to pursue general “betterment” has waxed and waned. As I look back through old posts, I recall that sudden bursts of creativity, and post regularity usually follow some particular “a-ha!” moment where I feel obligated to share my general successes or musings by writing on the wall of the internet (perhaps this has become my bathroom wall?) I also see a trend in the spaces where I don’t share, a few weeks here and there, a month or two.. sometimes over a year. These are spaces where my pursuit of something “better” has been engulfed by the chore of simple existence. It doesn’t mean it’s all doom and gloom – these periods are no stranger to the ebb and flow of happiness vs despair.. yet I still clearly admit that I don’t tend to share when I’m feeling down.
When I look at what’s already out there, others sharing their stories or thoughts, every piece tends to offer at least a glimmer of hope – people share their triumphs, providing a bastion of safety in a maelstrom of uncertainty. Life already gets you down, who wants to curl up with a mug of tea and read about someone else’s problems?
Yet what if having to strength to share my despair provides a common ground for inter-connectivity between everyone who comes across it? While a theme of hope can be inspiring, it can also lead nowhere – reading about how to improve your life doesn’t actually create tangible success: that still rests with the person holding the book. They still need to put in the effort to inspire and fuel their own change. What if it’s ok to read that life can be what seems like an endless struggle, that not only are you always walking uphill, but any pause to catch your breath results in the inevitable slide back down the slope?
Reading about despair and a lack of direction serves as a starting point for growth without any preconceived notions about what that might look like. Sometimes just getting out of bed is enough of a triumph that it should be as equally celebrated as winning the Nobel prize – It’s definitely more self fulfilling and should be treated as such.
The first of the Four Noble Truths
” … is the noble truth of suffering: birth is suffering, aging is suffering, illness is suffering, death is suffering; union with what is displeasing is suffering; separation from what is pleasing is suffering; not to get what one wants is suffering; … “
Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta, “Setting the Wheel of Dhamma in Motion”
teaches us that to become free of suffering we must embrace it. “Passing through it’s gate” implies that the identification and following acceptance of pain leads to it’s cessation. What’s great about this is that the shoshin, or beginner’s mind, is always easy to return to. It’s always easy to begin, and pain only serves as a constant reminder that we’re at the start.
And sometimes that’s enough.