I’ve been trying to bring myself to write this post all week, but have found myself, time and time again, struck down by the bogs of depression and anxiety. But, I’ve forced myself, after days of thinking of this post and what I wanted it to be about, to finally put it out into the universe.
Our lives are filled with the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. We’re elated one moment and utterly defeated the next. Suffering is inevitable for all of us. The question is, how do we deal with the suffering that life causes and how do we get out of what can only be described as a labyrinth of suffering? It sometimes feels like we’ve lost our way and cannot see even six inches ahead of us. We stumble in the dark for what we hope will be the next right step. Sometimes we even have to pull ourselves along the way because our bodies and minds are so broken and twisted from the pain we’re going through.
It’s what I imagine Bobby felt on November 22, 1963, when he was swimming in his pool and received that phone call from J. Edgar Hoover that his brother, President John F. Kennedy, had just been shot and then another one not too soon after stating he was dead. I could never imagine the utter defeat his entire essence must have gone through at that moment. When you dedicate your life to someone like Bobby did for Jack and then have them ripped away from you without a moment’s notice you are left bare and alone in the dark. You can’t even say whether or not you’re still part of this world because your world has just been obliterated. And just like that, with the snap of a finger, Bobby’s life was forever changed.
You could see it in his eyes. People always pointed out how they always showed an intense amount of sorrow after his brother died without speaking a word. And it’s easy to see why. Not only had he lost his brother, but he lost control of the ship that was charting his course in life. He was now drifting out into uncharted waters, alone and damaged. How was he to chart his course correctly again? How was he to learn to live again with this sadness in his heart?
This question pertains to all of us. How do we get out of these bouts of suffering? How do we get out on the other side of it all as unscathed as possible? How do we get out of this labyrinth of suffering?
The answer, it seems, comes from one of my favorite books, “Looking for Alaska” by John Green.
The only way out of the labyrinth of suffering is to forgive.
This might not be the answer we want to hear, but in all honesty, it’s the one that seems to continuously work. We build up these resentments inside ourselves towards the people around us that we swear have done us wrong, and what does this do? Nothing but cause more anxiety and anger to build up inside us. I’ve had it best described to me that a resentment towards another person is like pissing on yourself. It only affects you. The resentment towards that other person becomes part of who you are, and it changes you. It turns you into an angry, vengeful person. You begin to lose compassion, you begin to lose empathy. You start to see the world differently, selfishly.
And that, my friends, is how I believe we’ve become a country of apathetic, afraid individuals. We worry too much about what happens to me instead of worrying about what happens to us. We’ve forgotten how to forgive. We’ve been stuck in this labyrinth of suffering for so long that we feel like it’s just natural to remain in this state of mind, even though it’s not. Our hearts are bruised and our souls are battered. We are tired and weary from a fight that seems to go nowhere. Maybe it’s time we begin to see the other side of what this world has to offer us, as a country and as a people. We’re only here for a finite amount of time. Bobby understood this. He knew that while the suffering would always remain with him from his brother’s death he could channel it into something that could produce good out of it.
He saw hope in the face of suffering. Perhaps we could try to do the same?
Men without hope, resigned to despair and oppression, do not make revolutions. It is when expectation replaces submission, when despair is touched with the awareness of possibility, that the forces of human desire and the passion for justice are unloosed.