Pain and purpose

It’s been a very long time since I’ve lain awake in significant pain and tried to use my mind as a way to distract my body from the pain.  When our bodies are healthy we are no more mindful of them as we are of our breathing.  Then all of a sudden something within them is broken and we cannot focus on anything else.  I have endured significant emotional and mental pain.  To a lesser extent I have endured physical pain.  To me pain is a useful tool, a catalyst or a crucible of a sort.  It burns off the unnecessary distractions of everyday life to really uncover the truth of our selves, our character, our soul.

A few nights ago a friend and I had a long, late night conversation about purpose, how it is defined, where it is generated, the correct way one can implement it in one’s life, and whether or not someone can have a single purpose or many.  As I struggled to find clarity about something that can by its very nature resist definition, I realized an important correlation between the journey and the destination.

It’s all about perspective.  It’s easy to get seduced by the tiny details of our lives.  While they make up the journey it’s only when we have the distance to observe all those details though the lens of time that we gain the key to understanding them.

“I never lost faith in the end of the story, that I would prevail in the end and turn the experience into the defining event of my life, which, in retrospect, I would not trade.”

Stockdale, James Bond. Courage Under Fire: Testing Epicletus’s Doctrines in a Laboratory of Human Behavior. Stanford, CA: Hoover Institution Press, 1993.

So I’ll add one more idea to pain and purpose, patience. Patience is the essential element in the mix. Without it suffering abounds. Patiently abiding with pain, either mental or physical, creates endurance. And endurance will carry you through the difficult times, into transition, and finally through to peace.

I wish you all, today, and all days, the endurance to find your own peace.

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