Friday, November 2, 2018

Suffering, but not Struggling

I went to bed last night thinking, “Everyone in my life is struggling right now.”

Marriage issues, career setbacks, rapid and disorienting change, natural disasters and natural transitions. They’re struggling. But are they suffering?

This week I met a woman who told me, “How can you expect to achieve your wildest dreams if you aren’t willing to suffer for them?”

She said, when you eat a good meal or drink a fine wine or see a great show, you pay for it. Ticket costs, right? Entry fees. Tabs and bills and checks and cash.

Why would achievement be any different?
Photo by KW 2008

I have always been an achiever. I am willing to be first and willing to work hard. I’m willing to get up early and stay up late. The norm for the last ten weeks has been 18-hour days. My latest complaint is scheduling down to the minute, even scheduling family time and trashy romance reading time.

It’s football season, so it hasn’t been all work and no play. There’s just more work to make room for the play hours that football and family time claim.

I’m doing some things I love: meeting new people, building new programs, testing new ideas, transferring knowledge, and making connections. I truly feel like I’m IN the game. 

I’m doing some things I hate: sticking to a schedule, administrative attention to detail, skipping fitness, cutting back on wine, focusing on the and theninstead of the what if?

And while I’m suffering, I don’t feel defeated.

I woke up at 3:30 this morning thinking, 1) it’s too early to get up and start working, and 2) that’s too bad.

Yes, I’m busy. Yes, I’m running on little-to-no-sleep. Yes, I’m straining some of my most valuable relationships – I’m aware, friends, I promise!


When I thought last night of how everyone around me is struggling, I realized I’m not.

Suffering and struggling are not the same thing.

By suffering I mean I’m having to make hard choices, prioritize some things over others, let some things I loved go, disappoint some people while forging new relationships with others. Change is hard. New ventures are hard. Disappointment and failure and overcoming resistance are hard. That’s what I mean by suffering. It means what I’m doing is hard.

But I’m not struggling. Struggling is being indecisive, feeling alone, feeling disoriented or without purpose or direction. Struggling is questioning motivations of others and myself. Struggling is losing trust and losing faith.

I have faith.

The things that need to happen will happen. The places I need to be, I’ll get there. The influential persons and events that will shape my life are part of my life because I invited them in. I threw open the doors. I expected their participation.

I was willing to be changed.

This morning I am invigorated. I cannot wait to suffer for my achievements. I can see the horizon and it is a glorious place of fulfillment and peace. And this place I’m in now, it’s the bedrock of that one. It’s the journey. The path. The program. The system. The story I’ll tell.

And I love being in it.

ROAR!!! Then wait. Repeat as necessary.

I’ve always loved March’s “in like a lion, out like a lamb” dichotomy. On the one side, there’s a fierce restlessness an...