It seems like this has been my week to observe suffering.
I hurt my leg coming into the house after a long trip. I was carrying my bags (heavier than usual) and coming up the front steps. Somehow, I missed a step and when I got my footing and teetered forward, I did something to my calf. I think I may have torn it--it reacted by going into spasm. And hurting a lot. Searing pain, like it was being cut with a knife.
It hurts less now. When it happened, a lot of the pain, and suffering, was because I was afraid. I did not know what had happened. I felt sick to my stomach. I wanted this pain, this injury to not be there. I wanted desperately to rewind those two seconds and do them again. As I limped and grimaced, I searched for a way to move forward, a shuffle, anything, that did not cause excruciating pain, and create fear that I was making my injury worse.
Once I found a way to move, the pain started to subside. It is stiff, yes, and it still hurts like crazy when I stress it the wrong way. I might be going to the doctor tomorrow. But the pain, when it is just pain, is bearable.
Pain is not suffering. Wanting the pain to be different is.
Pain is part of being human, as is suffering. We all suffer from time to time. It is part of our human nature to resist what is happening, or to want things to be different. But I think it can also be helpful to see how we can often put up with more pain than we think is possible, just by accepting that it is there. Every little bit of acceptance helps. My leg is living proof.