It’s been a tough year, I know.
But what about the previous year? And the one before? What about five years ago?
The truth is, life is tough. It’s not about 2020. It’s not about the pandemic, COVID-19, or not being able to hug a loved one.
We’re looking at 2020 as if it is the only year that has ever brought us despair, death, and sickness. But this is what life is fundamentally about: losing the people we love to death, illness, uncertainty, and loneliness. Sounds to me like a daily pandemic.
Even when this pandemic is over, we will still be facing death and staring sickness in the face. Even when social distancing ends, we will still feel lonely at times. Even when it seems like our day is going perfectly, we might hear news that will shake us to the core.
What I’m talking about is a renowned Buddhist teaching, and anyone who’s familiar with the Buddhist philosophy knows what I’m hinting at. The Buddha bluntly said that if we wish to be happy, at peace, and put an end to our agony, we must accept that life is dukkha. In other words, for the Buddha, every day is a 2020.
Dukkha—the Pali word—means suffering, pain, or dissatisfaction. The three kinds of dukkha are physical, mental, and emotional.
But have we come to terms with this simple, ugly, yet liberating truth? When life is good, embrace it. But when life is bad, know that it’s part of the cycle.
We are destined to live both cycles, and surprisingly enough, we are designed to endure both. I can’t even recall how many times I thought I wouldn’t live another day after a loss, a disappointment, or a failure. But my body and my mind proved me wrong every single time.
Frida Kahlo said:
“At the end of the day, we can endure much more than we think we can.”
Frida Kahlo endured unbelievable physical, mental, and emotional pain. From suffering from polio, to having an accident that cost her her entire health, to tolerating a cheating husband, Frida experienced pain probably more than anyone of us.
But what she said about pain and enduring it couldn’t be more true and enlightening. It’s a difficult time for all of us, and a more difficult time could knock on our door at any time. Let’s remember that it’s part of life, that there are good days just as there are stressful ones, and that we can endure much more than we think we can.
We’re strong more than we can imagine. Whenever you forget about this, go back to Kahlo’s quote and know that tomorrow is a new, bright day.