Rising from our ashes

The day begins with a sigh, so much to lose, so much to gain.

I disagree with those who say that we are born innocent and pure. Rather, we are born plump and unformed — beautiful in our rawness perhaps, but just a bare hint of who we may be.

We are born of colliding Olympian impulses and then a violent, bloody spasm. The struggle for life begins there and it is a good indication of what lies ahead.

It is only through struggle that we begin to know ourselves. Until we are challenged, there is no way to know who we are because without it there is nothing to know. Everyone looks the same until faced with obstacles. How you deal with those that are put in your path is how you begin to know yourself.

All our attempts to allay the struggle, avoid it, skirt it or make it go away are in vain. There is no love, no coin that can protect you from the inevitable battle. The struggle will always come back. There is no end to it, no rest from it. It is all struggle. If you were born too comfortable, too at ease, then that is one of the greatest disadvantages I know. If you are not prepared for the struggle, then you will be thrust into it unwittingly, always dreaming of the lost, false paradise.

Struggle is life touching you, making you alive, giving you a chance to become yourself. Without struggle, you would have nothing to show, nothing to know.

There are times in your life when you reach bottom. At the bottom, though, I have found… well, there is no bottom. You can always go even lower, debase yourself even further. Still, there is always something down there alive and dreaming. It is a pulse, a vibration, a slight yearning that wants more.

It is from that fragile thing that we rebuild ourselves. We rise from our own ashes to begin again, start the climb even though we have started it a hundred times before. There are endless good reasons why we could give up, but if we do we lose our one chance to know the intangible force inside us that propels us forward. As the champion cyclist Lance Armstrong says, “Pain is temporary. Quitting lasts forever!”

Life is struggle. Thank God for that.

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