On this Ash Wednesday, I want to reflect on the fact that life is suffering. It’s not hyperbole or exaggeration or self-pity to say so. All of life for all people tends toward chaos and decay.
The nature of our existence is to constantly reorder the disordered within ourselves and in this world, or to do nothing and to succumb to the disorder. Either way there is suffering. Suffering cannot be escaped.
All people and every thing ages, wears out, declines. All require constant maintenance and renewal, stewardship and care to keep it from descending into chaos and decay. And even then, some chaos and decay cannot be escaped at all.
Even if you consistently do what you should and adequately execute on your responsibilities, you will not be relieved of your responsibilities or your suffering. You’ll simply be upgraded to greater responsibilities and a higher level of suffering. This is the essence of the message found in Luke 12:48:
"And unto whomsoever much is given, of him much shall be required."
And if you don’t take control over that for which you are responsible, you become lost, purposeless, mad. You rebel against your vocation and against your place in the cosmos. You are thrown violently about by the whims of circumstance. You are aimless and despondent. It is suffering of a different kind, but suffering nonetheless.
So then the real mindset to have in life is not, "What can I do to ease the suffering?" or "How can I make this existence more comfortable?" because the suffering cannot be eased and comfort is an illusion.
The real mindset to have is this:
"Does what I’ve done today make the suffering worth it? Does the value of this life I’m living exceed the price I’ve paid?"
If you can’t say yes to either of those questions, you’re presently failing at life. And I say this to myself above all others.