I love when someone or something appears on my radar for the first time and just plain wows me. I love when I feel exhilaration, resonation – and dot-connecting moments.
Maybe you are lucky enough to already know about Parker Palmer – but I just came across him in a new post from the newly-found (for me), soul-sustaining Brain Pickings (an astonishingly rich source of thought – I highly recommend).
Parker gave a commencement talk on the six pillars of a meaningful human existence (see video below).
His fifth pillar stopped me in my tracks! The most uplifting insight into being human: love, heartbreak, suffering – and substance abuse.
The fifth pillar –
“Since suffering as well as joy comes with being human, I urge you to remember this: Violence is what happens when we don’t know what else to do with our suffering.
Sometimes we aim that violence at ourselves, as in overwork that leads to burnout or worse, or in the many forms of substance abuse; sometimes we aim that violence at other people — racism, sexism, and homophobia often come from people trying to relieve their suffering by claiming superiority over others.
The good news is that suffering can be transformed into something that brings life, not death. It happens every day. I’m 76 years old, I now know many people who’ve suffered the loss of the dearest person in their lives. At first they go into deep grief, certain that their lives will never again be worth living. But then they slowly awaken to the fact that not in spite of their loss, but because of it, they’ve become bigger, more compassionate people, with more capacity of heart to take in other people’s sorrows and joys. These are brokenhearted people, but their hearts have been broken open, rather than broken apart.
So, every day, exercise your heart by taking in life’s little pains and joys — that kind of exercise will make your heart supple, the way a runner makes a muscle supple, so that when it breaks, (and it surely will,) it will break not into a fragment grenade, but into a greater capacity for love.”