The other day I was reading the blog of a British poet who has recently died from breast cancer. She kept a blog for about a year or two before she died, and at one point she writes: “Life is suffering. But not all the time.”
And I’ve been thinking about that a lot. I’ve also been thinking about a history book I once read, a history of the 20th century, which said that we in the year 2000 are the first people in the whole history of the world who expect to suffer no pain.
Whatever is wrong with us, whatever illnesses we collect or disorders we suffer from, we expect to be cured, or at least treated and drugged to within an inch of our lives. Even when we are dying we expect to be comfortable.
But do we have the right? Somehow I find it much more hopeful to agree with the British poet. You can’t wipe out suffering, you can’t avoid pain. You’re gonna get sick, love someone who dies, struggle through the suffering to get to the good parts. But there usually are good parts, and there’s always a glint of light to keep us sane.
Because life is suffering. But not all the time.