The things that shape us

A friend of mine made a comment on Facebook earlier this week – ‘It’s far easier to write tragedy that feels important than to write a great happy ending’

It got me thinking about why that is the case. I suspect it may have something to do with the uncomfortable reality that as adults we learn far more through suffering than we do through success.

But that doesn’t mean that we do, in fact, learn more through suffering. It is an active choice. It is not the fact of having suffered that makes us wise – mostly the fact of suffering just makes us bitter!

Wisdom comes from the distillation of reflection on the experience. It requires a willingness to allow ourselves to be taught; a willingness to see the possibility of our own unconscious complicity or perhaps conscious fault; a willingness to see things from a larger perspective than our own.

And yet there is still more required for true wisdom to emerge – a willingness to let go of sense of identity as ‘sufferer’. We need ultimately to let go of the incident that has shaped us. We need to forgive those who have caused us harm.

It really is only in actually letting go, allowing the emotional tags to fall slack, that we can begin to access the fruit of suffering.

To think that suffering or tragedy is instructional on its own is to entirely miss the point. It is the equivalent of waiting for something to grow from a trash heap. You need to separate out the potential compost from the rubbish, and then you need to plant the seed of hope.