Yesterday, my friend Markel and I went on a 25 mile bike ride in the quiet, early morning hour. It was freakin’ magic. We hadn’t turned out of his driveway when he told me he had a bone to pick with me. Bring it on, I replied knowing it would be good. “All real suffering is unchosen,” he began with a bang. He went on to tell me why he believes this.
Markel should have died back in the day when he got transverse myelitis and went from strong as an ox to coma bound in the blink of an eye. He would be in a coma for months. The doc’s thought he was a goner. Yesterday, he described thirty days in the ICU where he couldn’t move anything on his body, couldn’t speak, and had excruciating pain from a feeding tube lodged in his throat. He had no idea of day or night. He was suffering and had no idea when it would end. So, he said, when I write in BBTL about chosen vs unchosen suffering, he took exception. He told me I should change the word to challenge. All the stuff I’m talking about is chosen challenges. He’s right. It’s not real suffering (according to his definition).
So, friend, learn from Markel. Whatever temporary challenge you’re choosing to take on, go take it on. When it gets hard, like around mile 20 (I’m told) of a 26.2 marathon, tell yourself this isn’t suffering – you’re simply choosing to challenge yourself to keep going for another 6.2 miles. It’s going to end and you know when. Choose to learn to do hard things and tell yourself it isn’t suffering, it’s learning. Choose to lose in some relationship that matter and tell yourself it isn’t suffering – it’s learning to love others as you love self. Choose to go where you’ve never gone before and aren’t sure how you’re gonna get there, much less get back. Choose to challenge yourself and laugh when life puts you in the weeds. Thanks, Markel, for the wisdom bombs. I can hardly wait for our next ride, weeds and all!
Live hard. Love harder…