Occasionally, too, I’ll see that suffering can be in the eye of the beholder, our ignorant projection. The quadriplegic asks you not to extend sympathy to her; she’s happy, even if her form of pain is more visible than yours. The man on the street in Calcutta, India, or Port-au-Prince, Haiti, overturns all our simple notions about the relation of terrible conditions to cheerfulness and energy and asks whether we haven’t just brought our ideas of poverty with us.
But does that change all the many times when suffering leaves us with no seeming benefit at all, and only a resentment of those who tell us to look on the bright side and count our blessings and recall that time heals all wounds (when we know it doesn’t)? None of us expects life to be easy; Job merely wants an explanation for his constant unease. To live, as Nietzsche (and Roberta Flack) had it, is to suffer; to survive is to make sense of the suffering.
That’s why survival is never guaranteed.
OR put it as Kobayashi Issa, a haiku master in the 18th century, did: “This world of dew is a world of dew,” he wrote in a short poem. “And yet, and yet. ...” Known for his words of constant affirmation, Issa had seen his mother die when he was 2, his first son die, his father contract typhoid fever, his next son and a beloved daughter die.