Tragedy is common
Life is tragic. Or, as the Buddhists would say, life is suffering. It seems like everyone I know has experienced tragedy, like job loss, divorce, death of a parent, sibling or even child, abuse, estrangement, mental illness, cancer, or other health crisis. Life is tragic. And you only make things worse by fighting ultimate truth.
When I was young I didn’t know that. I thought life was supposed to be pretty good all the time and I got hurt and frustrated or depressed when it wasn’t. I carried on. I worried and fretted and complained. And I fought many losing battles.
There was a time when I also thought it was my responsibility to make everything work out for the best. I spent a lot of time and effort trying to make things “right.” I thought I had more control over life than I actually had.
I was like a person in a rowboat frantically rowing to get to a “good place” where I could finally be happy and relax. I rowed against strong currents, through shark infested waters, hit icebergs, and was beached on inhospitable islands. I’ve been lucky that even though there were some questionable moments, my boat never sank. Nowadays I tend to put down my oars and raise my sail more often and just see where the winds are going to take me. I know there will be danger and fear and loss and that, eventually, my journey will end.
Realizing that suffering comes into everyone’s life and that we all face the same tragic end has helped me become more compassionate towards myself and others. I endeavor to fret less and to put that energy into something more positive or, at least, more useful. And when tragedy does strike, I don’t ask “Why me?” I don’t take it personally. I take some comfort in being part of the human condition we call life. At least that is what I try to do.
How do you handle tragedy? How has that changed as you have matured?