Image I recall laying in bed as a young boy, hearing my parents fighting, dealing with the sadness of my mom having died, or crying after another round of physical and emotional abuse. I lay there close to my cat and tiger pillow and looking out the window, wondering what life was all about. “There was no god” I thought. “How could there be?” I was like any other child, coming into existence here on Earth and quickly exposed to some of the harsh realities of life. My innocence and quest for living in the moment were ripped away. It just did not seem fair.

Low Self EsteemSomehow I survived and struggled through my teen years, feeling alone, different and already showing signs of my low sense of self-esteem and self-worth. I envied the other kids. They had girlfriends, friends they hung out with, and many other cool things. Then I ventured into adulthood, plagued with unhealthy beliefs that had developed into co-dependent behaviors, fears, temperament, and struggles. Then there was a period where the pain became too much and I reached out for help and support and through years of applying various tools for self discovery, I started the process of healing the past and developing a stronger sense of self.

Viktor FranklFollowing this stage of development, my insatiable curiosity for life developed into a modern day vision quest, in search of the meaning of life and how I fit in. A life of pain and struggle had transformed itself into an amazing time of discovery, both of self and of the world around me. I spent countless hours reading books on all aspect of life and delving into deep philosophical discussions about religions, death & dying, and hearing the stories of others on similar journeys all around the globe. I had hung up my corporate way of life for a backpack to travel the world and volunteering in many capacities.

Razors EdgeThe movie, The Razor’s Edge, starring Bill Murray, in many ways captured this stage of my life. His story began with pain, which resulted in a spiritual quest where he discovered in his own way a greater meaning to life and then returned to life with this greater awareness. There were no privilages as a result of this discovery, only a new sense of self and of life itself. As a dear friend stated to me, it was now time to return to life, where I had to continue to “chop the wood and carry the water” in other words, to get on with life.

My own return to “normal” life was filled with many challenges. There were still many rough edges to work on. Life continued to be difficult. I returned to realize that life around me continued to have its ups and downs, but what was different now was a deep belief that there was indeed meaning to life. What exactly that was I could share some ideas I had formed, but knowing that there was meaning to life was sufficient enough.

Since then I have continued to ponder this question, continuing to read and listen to the amazing stories of trials and tribulations of others. And then it hit me. On the soul’s journey, whatever that may entail, we have a brief visit, or visits, to Earth, where we experience the physical dimension. We arrive, forgetting from the Source of which we all originated, to a place which has many detours, obstacles and challenges. We are confronted with emotions and material distractions, all of which generate short term highs and lows. It is with the pain that we experience that we are knocked off our path of comfort, often challenged with deeper and more philosophical questions about ourselves and of life itself.

PainTherefore pain has a real value, supporting the expression, No Pain, No Gain. We have come to a place where we are attempting to find our true selves, through all these obstacles, and often using pain as a catalyst for our personal and spiritual growth. This could all simply be my own way to rationalize why my life was filled with adversity and challenges. Or it could be the realization that I am one of the most fortunate people here since I have experienced so much of this valuable pain to help me on my way. Something to ponder…or further proof that I am indeed crazy (-: