Dreams, Suffering and Love

“Only three things can change our life: Dreams, Suffering and Love.” — Paulo Coelho

Think about it.

Think of all the changes you have experienced thus far, no matter your age nor any other differentiating factor between you and someone else. Only consider the common fates of us all, our common lot and our common existence as human beings, and think all of which you have already endured and have transitioned from and to.

Really, I beg you.

Think about it.

Have dreams not lead you towards the facing of the biggest changes of your life?

Have they not demanded from you your answering of the most important questions in their confront?

The ones where decisions were heavily considered, subsequently hard fought against, accepted, second-guessed, approved again, rethought the same, and then finally made, maybe?

Has suffering and love not lead you towards the same?

Have all three not coexisted within the same moment of life’s changes?

Think about it.

In reflection of this now, I know this to be true within my own life. Every change I’ve faced, let break me, endured, overcame, reflected upon, all have stemmed from one of the three, but also, have contained a presence of the trios teaming.

Dreams have taken me places; some having been in their meeting, others in their losing. Some of the ones I’ve met, I have also lost with my understanding of them. Others I still pursue due to their continued ominous position. Regretfully, I have followed dreams that weren’t mine, readjusted and found mine again, then lost them same; this process has happened many times, and again I’m sure it will.

Again, the same with suffering.

Suffering has taken me places; some in its meeting, others thereafter its time. Some of the ones I’ve met, I also have lost with my understanding of them. Others I still find myself a part of due to their continued ominous position. Regretfully, I have allowed suffering that wasn’t mine, readjusted and suffered through my own again, then lost the same; this process has happened many times, and again I’m convinced it will.

And, again, the same with love.

Love has taken me places; sometimes in its meeting, other times in its depart. Sometimes the love I have met, I have also lost with my understanding of it. Other times I still yearn for certain love due to its continued ominous position. Regretfully, I have pursued love that wasn’t mine, readjusted and found mine again, then lost the same; this process has happened many times, and again I believe it will.

And again, in this process, the three have coexisted. I do not believe they are able not to. One tends to take the lead in regard to intensity and situation, but the others are always there.

In this, this is where the mind and the body differentiate, but where they are also subject to the same process of change. The body does not consciously chose what it will face in order to change; rather it takes on the challenges this life provides and does its best to adapt accordingly for continued and bettered survival.

The mind however, us as human beings, the pair, chooses, though choice is not always advantageous. Maybe this is a lesson where the mind can truly learn from the ways of the body; take on the challenges life provides and do its best to adapt accordingly for continued and bettered survival. Remove thought. Just act.

Some changes demand of us to accept them thoroughly for what they are, others we are able to manipulate their meaning. Regardless, we must face them, and we must adapt to them. There will always be a demand to change when facing this life. This you have no choice over. The body knows this. The mind sometimes, it forgets this.

Life will provide the challenges, and though the majority of them will originate from either that of dreams, of suffering, or of love, whether we are of the mind to confront them or not, we will have to, no matter. This will be hard, as it always is, when the three come from a place of authenticity, and in their changing we are truly affected.

If your dreams are real to you, they will bring about change, desired or not.

If your suffering is real to you, it will bring about change, prepared or not.

If your love is real to you, it will bring about change, understood or not.

Begin to understand this. Acknowledge it. Accept it. And, again, if they are real to you, then embrace them. Neither one of true meaning can exist without change, nor can it progress, nor can it grow. So, in their inevitable confront, choose to take on the challenges they provide, and do your best to adapt to them accordingly for continued and bettered survival.

For, without dreams, without suffering, and without love, life is meaningless, I do believe. And, without change, neither can truly exist. So, in accordance, without change life is meaningless. Our dreams, our suffering, and our love, they understand this. Sometimes, us… we forget.

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Viktor Frankl on Suffering and Spiritual Freedom

But what about human liberty? Is there no spiritual freedom in regard to behavior and reaction to any given surroundings? Is that theory true which would have us believe that man is no more than a product of many conditional and environmental factors — be they biological, psychological, or sociological nature? Is man but an accidental product of these? Most important, do the prisoners’ reactions to the singular world of the concentration camp prove that man cannot escape the influences of his surroundings? Does man have no choice of action in the face of such circumstances?…

In his enduring book, “Man’s Search for Meaning“, Austrian Neurologist and Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl questions the environmental influence on man and reassures for us the presence of choice we innately possess. Referencing with great detail his and his fellow mans’ time during the Holocaust, within the inhumane and surreal conditions of concentration camp life, Frankl takes you to the lowest depths of human experience. But, upon momentary and subsequent life long observation into this experience, he assures for us the truth and the power of our last remaining individual liberty — spiritual freedom.

… We can answer these questions from experience as well as on principle. The experiences of camp life show that man does have a choice of action. There were enough examples, often of a heroic nature, which proved that apathy could be overcome, irritability suppressed. Man can preserve a vestige of spiritual freedom of independence of mind, even in such terrible conditions of psychic and physical stress.

We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms– [bctt tweet=”To choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” username=”cityreadsnyc”]

And there were always choices to make. Every day, every hour, offered the opportunity to make a decision, a decision which determined whether you would or would not submit to those powers which threatened to rob you of your very self, your inner freedom; which determined whether or not you would become the plaything of circumstance, renouncing freedom and dignity to become molded into the form of the typical inmate.

Seen from this point of view, the mental reactions of the inmates of a concentration camp must seem more to us than the mere expression of certain physical and sociological conditions. Even though conditions such as lack of sleep, insufficient food and various mental stresses may suggest that the inmates were bound to react in certain ways, in the final analysis it becomes clear that the sort of person the prisoner became was the result of an inner decision, and not the result of camp influences alone. Fundamentally, therefore, any man can, even under such circumstances, decide what shall become of him– mentally and spiritually. He may retain his human dignity even in a concentration camp. Dostoevksi said once, [bctt tweet=”There is only one thing that I dread: not to be worthy of my sufferings.” username=”cityreadsnyc”] These words frequently came to my mind after I became acquainted with those martyrs whose behavior in camp, whose suffering and death, bore witness to the fact that the last inner freedom cannot be lost. It can be said that they were worthy of their sufferings; the way they bore their suffering was a genuine inner achievement. It is this… [bctt tweet=”Spiritual Freedom– which cannot be taken away– that makes life meaningful and purposeful.” username=”cityreadsnyc”]

Independent of one’s current environment, or suffering, the human experience is largely dependent upon our perspective, a perspective which is instilled through the narrative we create for ourselves. We have choice; we do. We can choose to view our lives as a part of some uncontrollable fate for which we did not create or ask for, and rest assure many times in life things do happen that we cannot control. But, on the contrary, we can also view our lives however we choose to, uniquely crafted and experienced based upon one thing– [bctt tweet=”Our last remaining freedom– freedom of spirit.” username=”cityreadsnyc”]

Understand, no matter what you are going through, no matter how bad we have painted this experience to be, at any given moment there is choice; choice of action, choice of thought, choice of meaning. Place the value upon life yourself, free from external forces in which, again, for the most part, you cannot control. Give meaning to what you want to give meaning to and base that meaning accordingly to the perspective you want. It’s your choice. And, if your suffering is confusing to you at this moment, find peace in this: Everywhere man is confronted with fate, with the chance of achieving something through his own suffering.