Sand falls through the hourglass in the incessant, inevitable march of our collective moments. The sand represents only the quantity of time. Memories provide the qualitative quotient expressing our tenuous grasp while drifting among the currents. Nobody needs to be told, “Life is short.”
Nobody needs to be reminded of our ephemeral nature. However, sometimes, we are lost in the struggle. Sometimes beauty escapes our attention. Sometimes peace eludes our hearts. Sometimes the truth evades our searches. Sometimes, we must remind ourselves of the hourglass and the intrinsic human knowledge—namely, the ancestral wisdom: life is found in the struggle. Life becomes, in the bad moments, more visceral, more heart breaking, more capable of emotion.
Comfort and ease are new notions. Leisure activities are modern inventions. The guaranteed pursuit of happiness is only 235 years old. The idea that we are supposed to be happier more than sad is a contemporary fantasy. Evolution is only aware of the painful drama that causes reactions. Fight or flight isn’t necessary in those glamorous seconds, in those fabulous minutes, in those hours of bliss. The intangible fear, the pain, the angst and panic and anger come from needing those emotions to solve a tangible problem.
During my quiet attempt at bodily balancing in a brief 36 hour fast, physical needs of hunger become acute and then slowly fade into the natural struggle of our fundamental spirit. The fast is made easier by the planning of what to eat first, a luxury not afforded in the ageless struggle for sustenance. The body remains strong, the mind is sharpened, and the spirit feels exercised during these moments. I am aware of the difference between my voluntary abstention and the terrifying pain of starvation.
The forced struggle is less satisfying and beneficial in the short run, but optimistically, it can still lead to positive results and cultivated strength. I don’t pretend to have any secrets beyond this: the struggle is necessary. Death is a horrible, necessary evil. Failing, hurting, loving and losing are helpful reminders of the success, relief and passionate devotion we all strive toward, and endure the troubles to reach.
Buddha knew that desire causes suffering, yet the suffering creates an artful, conscious temperament with proper acknowledgment to the pain of craving. The suffering of desire is also rooted in the seven sins, and must be avoided therein. The struggle for happiness will lead through the barbed fields of stinging pain. When emerging on the other side, true happiness is often found. Duality, sadness leading to happiness, defeat leading to redemption, the yin and yang of humanity, existing together and creating each other in the unbroken chain is often the truest answer to any issue.
“When it rains, it don’t rain on one man’s house.” –Bob Marley