ON SUFFERING

‘There is no real joy without suffering’, academician, writer and poet François Cheng proclaimed. ‘The writer has to bear all the world’s misery on his shoulders in order to transform it, transfigure it into light’, he continued. This is the greatest gift of the writer, as he emphasized in his discourse. Indeed, one has to be aware of the cruelty, the wrongdoings and the gloom surrounding him so as to overcome it.

Is pain our doom, at times more prominent in certain people’s lives than others? This inevitable emotion is one that every being undergoes at some point in their existence and to a certain extent. It is universal. It is human.

A few years, Andrew Solomon, during a conference, tackled the correlation between pain and identity. Is there an explanation that can make sense of pain? What is the meaning of the mass murders that have happened throughout history? The reason behind these actions seems meaningless? It is certainly difficult to find the meaning of senseless enterprises undertaken by an individual who comes across as mad as a hatter. In Solomon’s words, it is thus about ‘forging meaning rather than trying to find meaning’.

“When you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about.”

Haruki Murakami

Suffering is inescapable — this is the grand lesson that people who have experienced the most traumatic episodes that life can generate.

‘How did you make it through all these terrible events?’, one often asks in awe.
‘Well, there was no other choice for me than to endure and survive it’, the latter would reply.

Oftentimes, in a child’s mind, the idea of injustice lives on. ‘Why do these unfortunate occurrences keep happening to me and to my family?’, more than once I thought to myself. ‘Why is life so unfair?’ And yet, after a while, one learns the value of suffering, otherwise, it would be purposeless to carry on.

Suffering thus forges identity. It allows us to observe the full spectrum. For without the darkness, there would be no light. Without the cold, there would be no warmth. Without death, there would be no life. Without negativity, there would be no positivity. No experience would be unique. No happiness could be utterly felt without having ever encountered sadness.

It is the path that one walks on over the years that grants one with lessons of strength, humility, and humanity. Indeed, none of these words would have been put down a page if I had never gone through this personal journey of torment and discovery. In my early state of lostness, I looked up to one of the great Hemingway’s quotes: ‘In order to write about life, you must first live it’. Thus, today I write for I know of the world’s misery, I reminisce about the agreeable memories and fantasize about unpredictable future in writing and the passion reminds me that I am living, and for far too long in the past, I did not.

There are countless more lessons in a life lived through pain than in an uneventful and quiet life. There is gratitude brought out of the bleakest moments. There is the acceptance of life itself and all that it embodies — as we say, the good, the bad and the ugly. There is the acceptance of the impermanence of things. This is the acceptance of the human condition.

The only truths of hardships are awareness and gratitude.

which hardship has shaped you the most into the person you are now?

Indochine. La vie est belle.