“Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional” – a Buddhist principle. It hit me because this morning, my daughter Zoe is arriving from San Francisco and I am both completely thrilled and also a bit anxious.
The last time we were together, she was packing up all her belongings and leaving to drive cross country with her father. The sadness of that day is still with me, even though I was happy for them to have that fantastic experience together, which really helped to create a strong bond.
And now, nearly seven months later, both of us have had huge changes in our lives to deal with, quite a bit of pain and definitely some suffering. But Zoe seems to be thriving in San Francisco, and I am thriving here in NYC, living my completely new life. I know that for both of us there is still sadness at the loss of our little family, but there’s also going to be lots of happiness when she arrives – especially when Lucy and Lola see their beloved Zoe.
Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional, joy comes in small moments that happen when we expect it – and even more frequently, I think, when it is unexpected.
I was looking back over some old posts I had written and I came up with this quote from Pema Chodron’s “When Things Fall Apart” —
“The essence of life is that it’s challenging. Sometimes it’s sweet, and sometimes it’s bitter. Sometimes your body tenses, and sometimes it relaxes or opens. Sometimes you have a headache, and sometimes you feel 100 percent healthy. From an awakened perspective, trying to tie up all the loose ends and finally get it together is death, because it involves rejecting a lot of your basic experience. There is something aggressive about this approach to life, trying to flatten out all the rough spots and imperfections into a nice smooth ride…. To be fully alive, fully human, and completely awake is to be continually thrown out of the nest. …. To live is to be willing to die over and over again.”
I may die a little with the pleasure of seeing my daughter this morning! I can’t wait! (And her plane is two hours late.)