On Suffering

“All I need is to win the lottery,” Mae often proclaims.

“That’s not true,” I tell her.

“But if I had enough money, my problems would all be solved.”

“No.  If you had lots of money, you would still be schizophrenic.”

She takes this in and nods solemnly.  Then she laughs.  “You’re so funny.”

“I am studying the dictionary, though.  If I can get smarter then I’ll be better, don’t you think so?”  (Mae finished nursing school with 96%).

“Schizophrenia has nothing to do with intelligence, it’s a chemical imbalance.  You are smart already.”

The conversation is redundant.  We will revisit it many times.

Mae, like many people, just wants an end to her suffering.

As a student of alternative health care techniques, and a caregiver, I too have looked for answers to the riddle of why suffering exists in the world.  I have witnessed parents watching their infant die, and young children sitting at their dying mother’s bedside.  I have met those whose disease has debilitated them to a point of total dependency; and others whose lives have changed in an instant due to an accident or violence.  And I have met many, like Mae, who are born into suffering, with no hope for a cure.  Void of answers, I am only left with more questions.

What I have come away with, though, is a sense of awe for the spirit that drives each and everyone of these people.  In the midst of so much tragedy, I have encountered strength, willingness, compassion, and incredible resilience.

I don’t believe, as some do, that suffering is a choice; I believe it is inevitable.   And in some instances, I believe that suffering can open the doors for much discovery.

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