Y’all know how Buddha talks about human suffering? And that it’s one of the four noble truths (that is, it’s an unavoidable part of the human experience no matter what), yada yada?
WELL I had a bit of a revelation about that recently. I was thinking about this friend of mine who really struggles. This particular person, let’s call her Delilah* has a lot of stressful things to deal with in her life, more than many of us have to deal with in fact, which is tough and makes her life hard.
Trouble is, Delilah is also very deeply focussed on the scale of her problems. The other day Delilah said to me, “My life is so hard. Nobody else has a life as hard as mine. Everything is stacked against me and I just can never catch a break.”
And because I love my friend, I went to hug Delilah and ask her about about it so I could better understand. But Delilah pulled away and said quite angrily, “It doesn’t matter anyway, you could never understand.”
Do you know someone like this?
There are many people like Delilah who are suffering and in so much pain, but for many reasons are not able to be vulnerable. They put up protective walls around themselves. And they become like a human pistachio: a hard shell on the outside with a little crack to watch the world through, but not big enough for anyone to get in.
What being a human pistachio does is it makes Delilah more isolated, so she feels less heard and less understood, and so the snowball get bigger and gathers steam as it hurtles down the hill.
It’s really shit that people have horrible stuff in their lives to deal with. But the thing is – and it’s not a new concept, Buddha was banging on about this back in the day – life is all about inevitable suffering.
YES of course there are varying degrees of suffering. But also we all have shit stuff in our lives and we all feel that pain and suffering, because that is OUR human experience.
While the experiences are different, the feelings we have are the same.
It seems to me that as soon as we actually understand that we are ALL suffering, we will start to be able to show true vulnerability and true compassion. We will be able to look each other in the eye and say “I see you. I understand, I know you are in pain, I know you are suffering.” We will be compassionate to ourselves as well as others and we’ll all sing kumbayah.
Dr. Brené Brown talks about how to be vulnerable is to be truly human. But the irony is that as humans when we feel vulnerable, we often feel embarrassment and shame, yet when someone else shows vulnerability to us, we love them more. They seem deeply human to us and we want to care for them and treat them with love and compassion. Brené says:
Vulnerability is the core of all emotions and feelings. To feel is to be vulnerable. To believe vulnerability is weakness is to believe that feeling is weakness. To foreclose on our emotional life out of a fear that the costs will be too high is to walk away from the very thing that gives purpose and meaning to living.
If we are going to stop being pistachios then what should we start becoming? I initially thought pawpaw because of the way it looks all like a delicious juicy vagine, proudly displaying it’s luscious innards to the world. But then after a philosophical discussion with Carolyn we settled on POPCORN. We all need to be more like popcorn! The hard shell has been blown wide open and our delicious fluffy innards are hanging out with explosive joy and our delightful tasty lumps and bumps are out there for everyone to see.
So, beautiful women, join with me in being magnificent popcorn today! Show the world your lumps and bumps. Look everyone you see in the eye and say “I see you. You glorious sexy, broken bastard. I know you are in pain. I am too.” (OK maybe not the rando on the train that would be super weird. But think it and maybe they’ll feel it and soften a little bit too.)
Pop to it.
*Delilah is a real person but this is not her actual name.