Known Suffering

Today’s quote is:

People have a hard time letting go of their suffering. Out if fear of unknown, they prefer suffering that is familiar.

This piece was my favorite of the ones I did in my first week, mostly because the way I did it was so new to me. I first painted the background all black. And then drew my face and painted it on top. Which is why it’s dark looking. But I love it. I loved the process of seeing the face emerge from darkness.

I wish I could tell you my faces get all better after this but that isn’t so. As I predicted, I do a few I like and many I don’t. The process is long, tough and arduous. But we soldier on.

As for the quote, it’s another one of those that gave me serious pause. I will admit right here and right now that I do this. I do this all the time. In fact, I am doing this right now in various areas of my life. As I get older and have more responsibilities in my life, I’ve noticed that I get more and more scared of the unknown. I get much more risk-averse.

The suffering I know is much better than the potential suffering that might come from the unknown. Who knows how bad it might be? I never think “Oh it might turn out so much better.” I just spend most of my energy worrying about how very bad it might get.

And while a little risk-averseness isn’t necessarily bad, it can easily get debilitating. If I am always choosing the familiar suffering, I am still always choosing suffering over any other possible path.

And here’s something I learned a long time ago: taking risks is like a muscle. Unused, it can atrophy. To be good at taking risks, you need to practice that muscle. You need to be willing to try. The less you try, the more you breed fear. The less you’ll try and the circle will go on.

So here’s what I thought today when I read the quote: Maybe I can look at my life and see the small sufferings I’m choosing. Ones that I can risk playing with. Ones where even if the unknown ended up being terrible, it wouldn’t be disastrous. I can start taking small, non-harmful risks wherever I can. This way I can flex my muscle. I can practice and strengthen it. I can also show myself that sometimes the risks pay off. Sometimes the known suffering is much worse than the alternative.

And I will only know if I try.

1 comment to Known Suffering

  • Cheryl

    I also fear the unknown. If I stop and ask myself, “what is the worst thing that can happen?” I often notice that there’s nothing to fear and I can soldier on.

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