Isn't it fun to watch a baby take their first steps? They weeble, they wobble and most of the time, fall down. But when they fall down, do they stay down? No, they try and try again. They persist. There is a great truthful principle held in the very idea of persistence.
We all suffer in one way or another even though outwardly it may appear otherwise.
There are (what may be called) two types of suffering: Useful Suffering and Useless Suffering.
I remember listening to a woman share her life experience and how she felt she hit "rock bottom". When there was a decision to work to "get herself out of that state", she realized that it entailed taking baby steps. For this woman, a baby step was to simply get herself out of bed to wash her face or brush her teeth.
That doesn't seem like much of a step, right? But it IS a big step because ANY step taken against useless suffering, is using the suffering properly. That step taken, transforms. That step taken, heals.
I remember being at the gym one day and watching a 300 pound woman on one of the weight machines. While watching her struggle through her workout, my own struggles felt so petty and insignificant. We seriously are never aware of just how everyone struggles, how everyone suffers. That's because we are typically so caught up in self-consideration that there's no room for anything else.
What do I mean when I say useless suffering?
Just as most of the time we aren't aware of how everyone suffers, we are unaware when we ourselves are suffering uselessly. Suffering uselessly is living a thought-based life wherein our attention is placed on what thought is feeding us moment to moment.
Your husband or wife doesn't do something that you've asked he or she to do. And like a superhero coming to save the day, thought is there to feed you exactly what you should say to him/her and how you should act. When we obey that thought nature, we suffer uselessly because we give energy to it, which is the same as feeding suffering, feeding the dark wolf.
However, in the moment the disturbance arises when you notice that your husband or wife didn't do what you've asked of them, if you consciously suffer that thought nature and what it is telling you to do, say and be and wait instead for something higher to guide you in that moment, that suffering is then used properly because it's transformative, it healed a part of you.
It's all about waiting and watching. The thought-based nature is SO quick....so quick to judge, so quick to condemn, so quick to punish. That's why waiting is everything. But waiting isn't pushing anything down or an act of repression. It is consciously suffering that part of ourselves - giving it room to move through so that something new can be revealed in the moment.
What we find when we first attempt to suffer ourselves properly is that we cannot do it. And that's ok! That's why this blog is called Baby Steps. Every effort that we make to work to suffer ourselves rightly is truly useful and helpful. With effort comes grace.
Persistence is essential.
We can't have an idea of any outcome from our willingness to suffer ourselves. We simply have to be willing to do so and let go of the rest. That 300 pound woman I saw at the gym knew not to expect a fit and healthy body from one workout. It's the same with our inner work. It's our life's work.
So, can you see that we are that child, even as an adult? We take baby steps. We weeble, we wobble and often times fall down. But we persist, and we persist because there really isn't an alternative but to continue to suffer uselessly.
Who wants more of that?