“Now, comrades, what is the nature of this life of ours? Let us face it: our lives are miserable, laborious, and short.” Little Big Horse
“I always like walking in the rain, so no one can see me crying.” Charlie Chaplin
And it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard, It’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall.
“You have entered an abnormal, lonely, and unwelcome new world where you are nothing but an island of sadness.” Elisabeth Kübler-Ross
“At some point we all look up and realize we are lost in a maze.” John Green
“There are too many ways to drown even if you don’t want to drown.” Charles Bukowski
“Anyone who has a continuous smile on his face conceals a toughness that is almost frightening.” Greta Garbo
The Pali word dukkha means suffering and stress and unsatisfactoriness, but it also includes all the minor annoyances of life as well. It’s basically getting what one does not want and not getting what one does want.
I had a chance to see and experience dukkha in several ways this afternoon. There was a hot air balloon preparing to launch and I stopped to take some photos. I could see this was going to take quite a while so I had to leave to find a bathroom and come back.
I watched the crew struggle to drive the van with all the equipment onto the grass but it was too soft and muddy, and they got stuck several times. I spoke to the pilot who was determined to launch no matter what so he could get his certificate, though he was obviously frustrated.
About 45 minutes later they got the balloon hooked up to the basket and set up the fan to inflate it. I felt sorry for this guy as he pulled and pulled but the fan wouldn’t start. It turned out it was out of gas so they filled it up and were back in action.
His crew seemed to have no experience and had to have everything explained to them at least twice, but eventually the balloon was up, up and away and I trudged back through the mud to my car.
Because of the direction the van ended up parking I didn’t have the beautiful late afternoon light, but I tried to get an image I could use that would capture the essence of dukkha.
Novelist Hermann Hesse, author of Siddhartha said: “I began to understand that suffering and disappointments and melancholy are there not to vex us or cheapen us or deprive us of our dignity but to mature and transfigure us.” Yes.
The Buddha said that we all have monkey minds, with dozens of monkeys all clamoring for attention. Fear and anxiety are very loud monkeys, pointing out all the things we should be wary of and everything that could go wrong.
Daniel B. Smith, author of the book Monkey Mind writes: “Admit the anxiety as an essential part of yourself and in exchange that anxiety will be converted into energy, unstable but manageable. Stop with the self-flagellating and become yourself, with scars and tics.”
In other words, everybody’s got something to hide, except for me and my monkeys.
I remember this day like it was yesterday, even though it was more than fifty five years ago. I told the photographer the light was bad, the sailor suit was cliché, and that we should ditch the teddy bear. But he just told me to shut up and sit still.
Looking back I can’t help but wonder if this was really me. I mean, I no longer have blond hair and I’m considerably taller. Is any of this person who I am now? Does this happy looking kid still exist in me somewhere? Basically, who the hell am I now at 59?
Sadhguru and many others have said that I am not the body or even the mind, which would make it very hard to choose clothes that fit. Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj, author of I Am That says that I am not the person I think I am.
But I think E. E. Cummings said it best: “It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.” Dammit.