Have you ever looked at someone else’s life and thought that if you had their life, you would be so much happier? Has it ever jealously crossed your mind that if you only had the same opportunities that person did, you would be better off? Has it occurred to you that perhaps the person you are envying right now is also someone who has curled up on the floor, hurt, crying, falling apart over the terrible things that have happened in their lives?
If not, then maybe it is time you start thinking about it, because tragedy knows no race, no religion, no age, no wealth. The only thing it knows is opportunity and devastation. Tragedy doesn’t care where you come from, what you do, how much you have been through. It strikes when it wants to, whether you are two years old or sixty. And it is absolutely terrifying the kind of suffering that the happiest looking people can hide inside themselves.
Listen. No one leads a charmed existence. Suffering is something that inflicts us all. Some more than others, and unfairly so – but every human being I have ever met has suffered in some way, and has grown accustomed to sadness somehow – making a room for it inside themselves, a place where they put all these terrible things that have happened to them. Some people can survive tragedy, pain, heartache, trauma…and carry on with smiles on their faces for the world to see. There is a resilience in humanity that is heartbreaking and inspiring at the same time – a delicately woven paradox.
I didn’t understand any of this until the day tragedy struck my life, and I suddenly understood why people drink till they are too drunk to remember, or smoke even though they know it could kill them, or make love to ten strangers and still feel empty inside; but they all smile and act like everything was all right. All of this, just to survive. And survival is a tricky thing – the ‘right’ way doesn’t work as catharsis for everyone.
Some people survive and talk about it.
Some people survive and go silent.
Some people survive and create.
But everyone who survives terrible experiences shares this: they are never the same again. Because wounds, even when healed leave scars on the body, and sometimes all the way down to the soul.
Everyone deals with unimaginable pain in their own way, and everyone is entitled to that, without judgement. So the next time you look at someone’s life covetously – thinking that they have not truly suffered, that their existence is full of good fortune and luck, remember this…smiles are very easy to fake. Composure even more so. And if you truly knew what was going on inside of them, then you may not want to endure what they are enduring right now, at this moment, whilst they sit quietly before you so composed, looking like the calm of the ocean on a beautiful, sunny day.
Remember how vast the ocean’s boundaries are. They stretch far beyond the horizon from where you are sitting, much further than your eyes can see. Whilst somewhere in that enormous expanse, the water looks so calm, far away in the very same ocean, there is a colossal storm.