On Life & Death

Pain is not the End: A Musing on Struggle & Surrender

Dear Life,

Over and over, I have felt the ground beneath me break.
And each time, there you were, with a new ground to stand on –
but only for a little while until that foundation would not hold me any longer, either.

And so we continue to dance through the impermanence of your very nature.

In this ongoing process of what I can only stupidly and inconclusively describe as the unbecoming of who I have been and the becoming of who I am, you are teaching me how to surrender.

I question your teaching style when the lessons are not exactly aligned with what I think I need to learn, or how I would like them to be taught. You probably know what I am talking about, dear Life. Those moments when I struggle with what I am being asked of by you, and instead of trusting you, I try to bargain with you.


You have shown me time and time again, how much I suffer when I hold on to what no longer serves. And it’s been painful. Yet at the same time, I can’t unsee all the ways in which you greet this pain of mine with a welcoming smile – and an invitation to say YES to something that does serve me, something that’s already here, in limbo like a train at standstill, waiting for the tracks to be changed before it can continue to move in the direction it is destined to go.

Dear Life, you’ve have been patient, consistent, and deliberate in your intention – for me to be, to feel, to trust and let go.

This way of Being (not Doing) still feels new and inconsistent at best. I still – more often than I’d like to admit in my desire for unattainable perfectionism – find myself asleep at the wheel: controlling, manipulating, judging, forcing, avoiding, negotiating, resisting – your natural flow.

This resistance is a consistent source of suffering. Prolonged over time, it disconnects me from other natural qualities woven into your fabric. Perhaps to my greatest dismay, what drowns beneath the sea of suffering is the essence of your Joy.
Unaware for too long, I misconceive living as a chore,
not a gift.

They say pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional. It’s a choice, though some days it does not feel that way. In those moments, I feel too weak, overwhelmed, insecure to allow your current of change to have its way with me.

But there you are, dear Life, always, still in your presence, waiting patiently, encouraging silently. By sheer luck or accidental grace, I have managed to surrender many times you’ve ask me to. I do not confuse those moments as products of my own will power, for you are written all over them.

I am realizing, through every act of surrender, that loss and heartbreak are precursors to growth; that the story never ends with pain; that pain is not the end. It is the gateway to a deeper sense of self that expands beyond the limitations of the mind, breaking down illusive barriers between you and I, dear Life,
for there you are – in all of it.

More and more, I learn to recognize that state of union with you as the true home I long to return to whenever I feel lost. And so I continue to call on my soul to return home, over and over, to you, so that at the end of it all, when your friend Death wants to have its way with me, I will gladly surrender one last time in gratitude to you,

dear Life.

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