Life is Difficult – September 25 2020

Life is Difficult – September 25 2020

Life is difficult.

 

This is a great truth, one of the greatest truths. It is a great truth because once we truly see this truth, we transcend it. Once we truly know that life is difficult – once we truly understand and accept it – then life is no longer difficult. Because once it is accepted, the fact that life is difficult no longer matters.

Scott Peck, The Road Less Travelled

 

The Road Less Travelled was first published in 1978, and I first tried to read it shortly after its publication. I had just moved to LA, desperately seeking meaning or happiness. I was in almost continual depression and despair, interrupted by occasional moments of peace and clarity, brought on by just the right combination of drugs and alcohol or the occasional experience of ‘falling in love.’ I was a mess.

 

Someone I knew, seeing me bewildered by life, suggested the book to me, so I found my way to the Bodhi Tree Bookstore in West Hollywood and bought it. I remember getting home to my little sub-basement apartment on Highland Ave., sitting down in my salvaged-from-the-sidewalk armchair with a cigarette and a cup of coffee and cracking it open.

 

The first line was set apart as its own paragraph. There it lay, thumbing its nose at me, giving me its literary finger, telling me once again as if I hadn’t heard it enough from myself and the rest of the world that all was hopeless, nothing ever would change and I might as well die.

 

Life is difficult.

 

I threw the book across the room, bouncing it off the wall where it flopped to the floor face down and lay there in its superior smugness. Life is difficult. Screw you. I was so angry I could barely see straight. So I had another cigarette, smoked a joint, had a drink, had another cigarette and thought and thought and thought about the unfairness of this bastard world and what was I going to do now.

 

Eventually I got around to reading beyond the first line and was led to the beginnings of a new understanding of the world, thanks at least in part to Dr. Peck’s groundbreaking writings; and today I know that he was right – life is difficult and remains so until we begin to see the difficulties for the opportunity they present: the opportunity to choose, again and again, love over separation and judgment, life over death, oneness and identity as the Self over despair and identity as the smallness of the ego.

 

This is why we are in these bodies: to learn how to love; to exercise our free will, sometimes toward God and sometimes away from God; and as the teacher David Hawkins has said, if we didn’t have this world with all its challenges and opportunities for growth, we would have to build one just like it.

 

Life is difficult. Once we accept that as a given, we can move on to the good stuff. 

 

Today I will see each ‘problem’ as an opportunity to find compassion – for my fellows and for myself. I will ask myself to love where it seems impossible to love, to accept where acceptance may feel like losing the game, to celebrate this life of possibility when it feels like there is no good option left for me to try. In the midst of hopelessness and despair, I will say something like, ‘Well, it will be interesting to see how this turns out. Help me, God, to stay present and aware and willing. Amen

Allegory, The Alchemist, salt print from collodion negative