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The lessons of pain, the journey to fulfillment

I’ve had a lot of quiet time of late. It has been a good time to visit some favorite old haunts; the works of Hesse, LeGuin, McCarthy, and Proulx. Their stories and reflections are indispensable in their ability to provide a path towards understanding fate and fulfillment. My recent re-reading and consideration of their work  brought me to an inescapable conclusion:

Pain is the voice of destiny.


Action and suffering make up the totality of our lives: they are a whole; they are one. A child suffers its weaning, the humiliation of adolescence, the pain of legs whittled by time. It suffers here and suffers there until, in the end, it suffers death.

Yet throughout our brief histories, the things we are praised for, the things deserving of love and admiration, are merely expressions of good suffering — suffering to the fullest. They are the path to fulfillment.

The ability to suffer well is true with all life. The seed suffers itself to the earth, the root digs deep to suffer the rain, the bud suffers its flowering. And, we suffer our own destiny in the same way — guided by earth, rain, and growth.

Destiny hurts.

It is hard to learn to suffer. Fortunately, we have been provided with guidance. Women succeed more often and are nobler than men, and men are well served to learn from them for they know to listen when the voice of life speaks, and when the sun of destiny darkens in shadow. Here is a focus on life far from the temptation of man-to-man combat. Here men learn and gather inspiration from their strength to suffer and endure while attending to others.

From suffering springs strength.

Fulfillment does not spring from busy bustling, it does not spring from industrious hammering. It grows in solitude, where silence and danger dwell. It grows out of the suffering which we have not yet learned to suffer.

If you evade suffering you also evade the opportunity for joy. Pleasure comes easily but it does not deliver the joy of fulfillment. Fulfillment is a function of time, whereas pleasure is circular, repetitive. It has an end and when it comes to the end, it has to start over. It is not a journey and a return, but a closed cycle, a locked room, a cell.

Fulfillment is working with time, instead of against it.

8 thoughts on “The lessons of pain, the journey to fulfillment

    1. I thought the theme of CHL was Cuenca related, not sure why this kind of stuff is here

  1. Or panes let in the light. And raging against the dying of the light is drawing the blinds. But I do like that the one who wrote “rage, rage” drank (contributorily) himself to death at age 39. Out of the ironic mouths of babes….

    As for weaning, birth precedes & Otto Rank’s ideas about that initial trauma have traction…or could say contribute to the establishment of the traction that will constrain mobility throughout the rest of life.

    But why not start at the start? The big bang of conception. Incoming: you’ve got male. We hadda’ blow up the village to save it. Schumpeter’s trumpet: & the walls came tumblin’ down; creative destruction. King’s hosses & menials couldn’t put that egg back together again.

    And death may be the reward for life.

    And what doesn’t kill you does not necessarily make you stronger.

    Sol•itude is the sun.

    Sarte-tude: hell is other people.

    Hell likes it both ways: fiery light & pitch blackness. Hell-o & adios: aloha•ha & schizo(un)freenia.

    Mr. Bradley’s poetical. Most economists aren’t. Which is why Dismalion has so much traction. (Falling in love with a statue’s gotta’ have something in common with falling in love with a reflection.) And why Eliza Doolittle bested Henry Higgins. And almost certainly outlived him, too. The Eddie Murphy “Valentine” stranger in a strange land version:

  2. As an interesting exercise, substitute the words ‘ growth through change’ where ever the word ‘ suffering’ occurs in the article.

  3. Thank you for the article. I’d like to suggest including C.S. Lewis’ The Problem of Pain and Surprised By Joy on your reading list. 🙂

  4. Does a man have to be either? I would say, Learn the Lessons of Wisdom Globetrotter. The teacher will come when the student is ready…..

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