Thursday, August 21, 2008

In the Beginning...

I sometimes make the mistake of imagining that my own experience is somehow universal, that I represent the archetypal human experience. My daughter, though, likes to point out that I'm "one weird guy," and so it is perhaps a mistake for me to make conclusions about how life works for the rest of humanity. It might well be that it's this way for me alone, and not really for other people at all.

But what choice do we have?  Atfter all, the only thing we can do is genuinely experience how life is for us, share it with others, and if enough sharing goes on, we're likely to discover enough commonality to relieve our aloneness in the world. 

This is the way life is for me....

During times when I'm particularly mindful and objective, I notice in the morning that the process of awakening starts with an awareness of pain and discomfort. It's a relatively rare thing to awaken with a heart that sings. Much more often it is some form of pain that  starts the awakening process.  Sometimes the very first sensation is the ache of muscles and joints that have been inactive for many hours. Sometimes it's a bit of emotional discomfort of some kind—memory of an unpleasant event from the day before, for example. 

For me, anyway, awakening begins with a recognition of pain.  It's the thing with me when I climb out of bed and into daily life. Sometimes I think that without pain, there would be no reason for us to awaken in the morning at all.

Perhaps I'm wrong, but I don't really think this means that I'm some sort of melancholic, depressive personality. It seems to me that almost everyone awakens with pain of some kind. And if we're perfectly honest, if we drop our defenses at any given moment during that day, we'd also likely have to recognize the underlying presence of some discomfort and pain.

It seems to be a human truth, and since truth is by definition honorable and noble, this is the first of the noble truths:  Life is painful. To pretend otherwise is deception, and serves only to obscure the truth. 

(continued above)

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