"Affliction is a treasure, and scarce any man hath enough of it" - John Donne.
You may be asking, "how could pain be a good thing?" Well, let me explain. In order for us to feel true happiness, ultimate joy, or pure bliss we must have experience of pain and suffering. The dark times we experience are only there to serve as comparisons for the good stuff we get to feel. Pain is inevitable, so we should look at it as a tool to help us feel happier. Without low points, we can never truly know when we have reached our high.
For example, I went to visit my cousin for two weekends in a row. The first time I stayed for four days. The second time I was only there for two nights. Maybe those two nights were the best nights of the weekend, but I did not have a third or fourth night to compare to and determine if the night could have gotten any better. This is a very simple, uncomplicated, lucky problem to have. In another sense, think of sports.
People like to say when an athlete should retire. They always say after the Super Bowl or World Series or whichever championship game that the best player should retire and go out on top. Maybe that is why athletes retire too late. Because for us to feel the best we can we must first feel our worst. If an athlete goes out on top he will never know if that was the top. He will end on a great note but will always have that "what if"? We are obsessed with perfection. Despite the fear of not going out on top, no one remembers the end. If an athlete has a terrible last season, he will know how it was when he was at his best and will be memorialized for it. And if they are good enough then it doesn't matter how it ended because he can rest easy knowing he left it all on the field or the court or the rink.
We need the lows in life to appreciate the highs. The way homesickness debilitates you to remind you how amazing your home is, the way a loss after a game feels to remind you how sweet victory tastes, the way a disappointing night on the town reminds you how great a night in with close friends feels. The way your heart feels empty, your lungs deprived of air, and your tears run dry when someone you love has died, to remind you of all the beautiful memories big and small.
So yes, pain and suffering are inconsolable yet inevitable parts of life. However, they are necessary for us to know how happy we can be and to remind us to enjoy the great moments we are in. Do not take a second for granted because as easily as it comes it goes. Pain does not last forever, but neither does happiness; they rotate in this vicious cycle called life, so we better grab it when it comes by.
As Robin Williams says in Good Will Hunting, "Cause you'll have bad times but that'll always wake you up to the good stuff you weren't paying attention to."
Pain is the lesson we never knew we needed.
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