Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars.
Does it require suffering to emerge as one of the strongest of souls?
Perhaps it does.
I could fill my musing this morning with a giant laundry list to make a point, but I will just list Jesus, Gandhi, Moses, Muhammad, Mandella, and Mother Teresa, to name a few.
Viktor Frankl, survivor of the Holocaust, said, “When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.” I believe his statement ensconces the entire reason behind Gibran’s aphorism. The strongest souls emerge with scars (rather than perishing) because they are capable of standing up to the cause for suffering and changing themselves in order to survive. It is truly that simple. And simultaneously, that difficult.
When you are bull-headed and determined to prevail, against all odds, you inevitably find some obstacles that are insurmountable. When they arrive, you are forced to accept that no matter what you do, that opportunity is not going to prevail as you have currently envisioned it. The difference between the conquering hero and the person who wimps out at such a moment comes down to mindset. In the face of that insurmountable obstacle you may feel as if all is lost. But the truth is, that all that is lost is your definition of the word, “all.”
History is filled with stories of geniuses who hit the wall and continued regardless. It does not mean that they got to where they thought they were going. Rather, it means that when they were no longer able to go where they thought they were going, they just created a different route to a different location. If that appears a vacant compromise to you at first blush, I would invite you to rethink that.
If you are steadfast in going in a direction and that direction is entirely impeded, are you going to stand by and allow the rest of life to pass you by, because your first direction was no longer possible? Do I need to list the quadriplegic painter who paints with a brush in his mouth? Or the man born without fingers who is playing the piano, the gymnast without a lower torso, the blind skateboarder doing stunts? Social media shows us videos of such people regularly, and we pause with wonder at how capable they were of prevailing under the most excruciating of circumstances.
Suffering sucks. Plain and simple. None of us ever wish to find ourselves in a position of suffering. When I was younger, my aunt lost most of her tongue to cancer. I watched her bravery year after year, making a great life with what she had, and her bravery was never lost on me. It taught me that bravery in the face of fear is the only true solution. Everything less than that, is cowardly (albeit quite human).
We all become scarred over the course of a lifetime. Yet, we continue to find a reason to rise up again. Fall down 7 times, stand up 8. A massive character may truly be seared with scars, if for no other reason than they have learned that to be massive, you have to continue with everything you’ve got, regardless of circumstance, pain, discomfort, sadness, depression or fear.
In the end, we are all we have got, and attitude is the only string we have to play upon, so make the music of your life resonate with the melody of a life truly worth living.