Suffering Monsters

I wish I was funny. I wish I could write about serious and important things with funny little anecdotes. I’m more than a little jealous of those people who can write like that. It makes reading their work on heavy topics much more interesting.

I’m reading ‘The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck‘ by Mark Manson. The book itself is ok, the writing is ok, but I’m finding that I don’t actually like the book – because I’m looking at things in myself I’ve never really looked at before. The monsters in my closet. I’m trying to look them dead in the eye, really exploring them for what they are. I have some doozies that I’ve never really dealt with, that I’ve always avoided.

There’s a lot about the book with which I agree. The main tenant is that life is pain and suffering – it can’t be avoided. Pleasure comes from how we deal with that pain and the choices we make in solving the problems that the pain creates. It’s the process of solving the problems that creates the pleasure. So, the point is to decide what kind of pain you’re willing to endure – to what kind of suffering are you going to expose yourself in order to solve what kind of problems in order to get what kind of pleasure? Are you going to suffer through hours of piano lessons, at the expense of playing with friends, when playing the piano itself is fun, in order to eventually play with a symphony orchestra? What sacrifices are you going to make, what kind of problem will you try to solve, that has the kind of suffering that you find pleasurable (or at least endurable)?

One of the things the book reminded me is that you can only learn to endure pain by taking it head-on. So now that I really look at my monsters, I’m beginning to see that maybe I can do something about them. Maybe I have the power to take on the pain, and then overcome it.

Because, as the book says, it comes down to choice. It’s my choice to take on this pain. I didn’t choose those past events to happen, but I do get to choose how I experience them, and it’s my responsibility to deal with them. And because I choose to take on the pain, I’m empowered to endure it. But, if I decide to fall into the role of the victim (which has been my stance for so long, I don’t know if I can let it go), if I choose to believe that I am powerless against the experiences I endure, then I let the pain make me miserable and unhappy.

I’m still reading and discovering along the way. I don’t know if this is going to be one of those ‘life changing’ experiences, but it will certainly be up there as a notable one. There’s a lot of great advice in the book, and I do recommend it, even if I don’t like what it’s ‘showing’ me about myself. Hopefully, I’ll come out a stronger person on the other side. Wish me luck.

In the comments below, mention a book or movie that made you take a second look at who you are and your personal world view. I’d love to check it out.

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