The remnants of an old conversation come to mind when addressing the importance of “struggling”. The conversation, which took place between friends, was mostly based around a famous quote which defined spiritual and progressive emancipation as a consequence of human struggle. And as the abstrusity of life’s experiences now crystallise, and the lessons behind them demystify, the wisdom of this quote heavily resonates in my conscience.
Having parents who emigrated to Europe, with exposure to countless others of similar descent, I have a sense of appreciation for the struggle and hardships faced by the generations which had to physically transcend the laws of geographic disabilities, in search for better opportunities. Not to say that emigrants are the only group fit for such appreciation; the working class across the Western world (and beyond) deserve respect for acting as the whale which carries the world on its back. And history is further littered with examples of extraordinary individuals who withstood countless struggles in order to lay down a legacy for later generations. Not only are such individuals now in scarce supply, but also seem to have been painted over by the brush of history’s selective strokes. I won’t include an exhaustive list here, but ask a modern feminist, for instance, who Louise Michel is and you may get fewer acknowledgements than the individual in discussion deserves. Indeed, today’s Nobel laureates would be yesterday’s village-folk.
If you were to get a short-list of some of the most influential people to have graced the surface of this world, you would, among otherwise spasmodic traits and qualities, find one pressing commonality. You would discover a single attribute which runs through the lives of said individuals, almost like a disease which continuously pulsated their efforts, providing life to their potential. That quality would be one which allows them to embrace the notion of ‘struggle’. Cast the net of your conscience far and wide, from Darwin to Darius the Great, Malcolm X to Mahatma Gandhi, Plato to Picasso and from Jesus to John Watt, they all had one common challenge, they had to struggle – and do so viciously, whilst make progression a by-product of this reality. In between them, they had to face every type of adversity, every type of resistance, from the medical to the marital – yet chose to embrace the struggle in order to progress. I invite you to do your own research, don’t rely on mine, read up about the 100 most influential and successful people since the dawn of history, and be not surprised when you find the above to be true.
It is the ability to run from that which is comfortable, to embrace setbacks, and to understand their value as the catalyst for achievement, which defines those mentioned above. It involves sourcing the light within ourselves, rather than aimlessly chasing the shadows on the wall, which do nothing but occupy the peripheral. Self-victimisation is something which we all are guilty of. From cursing our luck when stuck in traffic, to slandering our fate when life takes us to an unwanted path, or even ruing a lost love. Complaining, or self-pity, is as natural to us as wailing is to a new-born. In this state of pseudo self-analysis, we haphazardly miss the opportunity for growth, the opportunity to build our character and let our wounds become the place where light enters us. While we drown in our own tears when at the bottom of the well, the individuals named above would look for rope.
If we embraced every test, whether small or large, from helping others after a long day at work, to even spearheading charitable movements, we would find the outcome to make us stronger, and more ready to tackle future challenges, which we otherwise might have failed. Undoubtedly, passing a test today saves us from a failure tomorrow. Indeed, we are all engineered to seek comforts, all of us living a life which kings of the past might envy, but seeing the sense behind continuously testing ourselves, is a realisation which will be spared for a precious few. And the same individuals who are precious and few, will achieve all those things sought by the common and many.
With that, I bid you farewell, and leave you with the following poem;
”The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.
Is not the cup that hold your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter’s oven?
And is not the lute that soothes your spirit, the very wood that was hollowed with knives?”