On Struggle

My idea of what it means to be kind might seem a bit odd. It might seem even odder if you’re someone that I love, because I believe that the kindest thing I can do is compel you to examine things, not smother you in reassuring platitudes. I will not tell you what you want to hear, unless it is also true. I will let you struggle.

Believe me, dear ones, it is as hard on me as it is on you. I can see the pain you’re in. I can see you’re lost and losing faith. But I’m still going to let you struggle.

Struggle is the most important part. Yeah, life is suffering. What we struggle over is often meaningless, in the grand scheme of things. But struggle is where everything important happens.

It’s where you learn how tough you are, how durable (it’s always more than you think). It’s where the rubber meets the road and you start to ken what matters. It’s where when you’re beaten down, overcome by worry or shame or rage, you realize that you’re still here, still alive. And, while battered, beaten, and dragged to the outer reaches of your limits, you were never really broken — and that’s no small thing. In fact, it’s the only thing.

It’s where you learn that your feelings need not be attached to your circumstances, where your actions come from your principles, not in reaction to the events and the people around you. It’s where, unbelievably, you come to understand that the struggle is the only thing that matters and that, what’s more, the struggle is your friend

It doesn’t insulate you — you don’t need it. It doesn’t protect you — you don’t require it. Instead, it sets up opportunities and situations for you to grow in. Over, and over, and over.

Struggle is unmoved by your tears. It is anointed by your rage. Your fear demonizes it, but it doesn’t change its essence. Struggle lets you grow into your power, like a patient parent to a recalcitrant child. Eventually you come to see that struggle was always your friend. And then it ceases to be a struggle, and becomes merely a challenge.

You might say: “I have nothing to prove. Not to myself, or to others. Why should I have to struggle?” You don’t have to. Stop. Go limp. Play dead.

But if you can’t perhaps you need to acknowledge that some part of you needs that struggle to be realized. To come to the surface. To develop itself. Even if you feel as fully formed and individuated as Athena, acknowledge that if that were true, you would have stopped struggling by now.

Think of struggle as being born. Babies don’t want to be born. The womb is warm and safe, and the world is cold and bright. But they’re driven by a force both of them and outside them, and so it goes.

It doesn’t have to hurt. I mean, it does hurt, sometimes. But it doesn’t have to get to you.


14 thoughts on “On Struggle”

  1. What Ty said!

    (Not very deep, I know – but the last few posts are still percolating, and then, when the Wisdom becomes integrated, it’s really tough to recreate the path it took ‘IN’…)

    Bright Blessings!


    1. I know!!
      – it’s something in “the stars” (planets, actually) that Lissa Boles was talking about at the end of April … I can’t directly reference it, but there’s alignments and retrogrades (Mercury isn’t the only one) that will really shake all-kinds-a things up, for the next quite-a-while…

      Enjoying this ride, my dear – you keep throwing curveballs at our firmly held definitions, and provoking re-examination – and that’s a GoodThing!

  2. Found you through Raptitude. I like what I’ve read so far, and will continue to read 🙂

    My favorite part of this post (I have a few, but this one got me) is:

    “Struggle is unmoved by your tears. It is anointed by your rage.”


    1. Down, Shanna, down! Good girl! (snirkk) 😉

      Hi, Aaron! … and really, Welcome!

      That line about struggle ^^^ seems closely related to a central tenet of Steven Pressfield’s new book “Do the Work!“:
      “Resistance [like Struggle] is a force of Nature. It’s unavoidable, and it’s useful for telling if you’re making progress.” (massively paraphrased)

      1. I’m a bit ambivalent about that, actually. The path of least resistance is nearly always useless, of course, but often the greatest resistance is…kinda dumb.

        I haven’t read the book yet (I’m stealing Charlie Gilkey’s line, “I’m too busy doing the work”) but I hope he somehow addresses the notion that if you’re beating your head against a wall, perhaps the best thing to do would be to step back and see if you could just go around.

        I often think when I’m struggling, and everything seems so frickin hard, so Sisyphean, that, well, there’s got to be SOMETHING I’m doing wrong. Life is not supposed to be that difficult, imo.

      2. Pressfield is talking about your Internal Resistance, and using it as a sign-post, not about searching out the extremes.
        Methinks Resistance is a product of out Rational Mind – we’ve talked before how invested *that* is in maintaining the Status Quo… at all costs, even to the point of making up excuses and threats.

        (I’m not finished reading the book, either, but it feels like it’s reinforcing things I’ve been internalizing recently…)(and it is “easy to read”, except for “thinking about it” part LOL)

  3. Pingback: Things I Learned This Week

  4. Some philosopher once said:

    “To those human beings who are of any concern to me I wish suffering, desolation, sickness, ill-treatment, indignities – I wish that they should not remain unfamiliar with profound self-contempt, the torture of self-mistrust, the wretchedness of the vanquished: I have no pity for them, because I wish them the only thing that can prove today whether one is worth anything or not – that one endures.”

    He was being a bit hyperbolic, as usual, but I thought you’d enjoy that one.

  5. Yeah, he means Neetch. Neetch quotes are Scribbler’s default setting. You can read back in the comment all the way to the beginning of this blog– full of N. quotes 🙂

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