When I first came to Buddhism, nine years ago, it really hit me between the eyes and woke me up to a whole other way of viewing the world and navigating through it. It was refreshingly honest to hear a spiritual tradition come right out and admit that, "Life often sucks, but it doesn't have to cause you suffering." Obviously I'm over-stating the first noble truth that suffering is inevitable but it was refreshing to hear after when so many spiritual traditions today try to make life out to be some candy-land world where rainbows shoot out your ass. And, that if you're not constantly, "high on life" that something is wrong with you.
Life has many wonderful, high peaks to enjoy and savor to be sure. However, in America at least, it's a bit taboo to say life is often (but not always) full of suffering. It's considered being a "pessimist." It's not considered "polite" to admit to people when you're having a shitty day. You're supposed to lie when people as you how you're doing. You're supposed to put on a plastic, botox-infused grin and say, "I'm doing great, but I'll get better." Even if you don't mean it. But, thankfully, Buddha laid-out the three other noble truths to show us how to--not, "end suffering" but learn to live with it as a part of life so we aren't constantly feeling over-whelmed and consumed with it.
Well, one of the teachings in Buddhism is that all things are interconnected and that it is through those connections that we find ways to handle the suffering in life with a bit less torment. We don't have to, "go it alone." The Buddhist notion that we are interdependent and interconnected has been given a new incarnation with the internet. It has helped us reach out and connect with people all over the world and help one another navigate the rocks and whirlpools in this raging river of life. This globally interconnected community online, reached out and plunged it's far-reaching arms into the raging maelstrom of the deep, river of suffering and pulled a drowning brother up from the life-crushing undertow--and back onto the shore of hope.
Ted Williams was that man. Who is Ted Williams? No, not the famous baseball player. He was (up until a few days ago) a homeless man in Ohio, USA who had fallen on hard times and began begging for money to start a new life. But, a mindful (aware) journalist (Kevin Joy; an ironic name for an altruistic stranger) from the Columbus Dispatch newspaper stopped and saw the man's sign but said Williams would, "Have to work for his money." According to an article by Christian Red for the New York Daily News. What happened next brings chills of inspiration to my body. Mr. Williams belted out a monologue that one would expect to hear from a radio personality. Out of this raged, tired face came a golden voice for radio:
So, while life sucks a lot of times, the great part is that we have a whole community to help us live through it and help us actually let go of a lot of trying to control things. And, when we let go, we often find a sense of peace, tranquility and acceptance with the way life unfolds. Letting go frees up our mind to be completely aware (mindful) and open to whatever comes, which often means we can see opportunities that might of passed us by when we were focused so much on how miserable we were. It's o.k. to acknowledge that life sucks sometimes; and it's healthy to admit that life isn't always going to be candy land because then we aren't so crushed when the our expectations don't come true. Expectations rarely do. The way of the Buddha is to live life without expectations--with an open heart. It's certainly never easy; and it's easier said than done but it's possible. That's the important thing. It's possible. It's been done before, and Buddha is that example.
Understanding interdependence helps us ride the storm out with others going through the same shit storm; and that makes all the difference. It helps to know you're not alone. Ted Williams let go of trying to force things but didn't give up and his radical acceptance of his situation allowed him to ride out his suffering until help could arrive. What an uplifting story in a modern world that is so full of ugliness.
~Peace to all beings~