It’s All in the Suffering

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I was going to say no, I didn’t fall off a cliff, but actually, I did. And though I lay on the rocks, wishing nothing more than to be wiped off the planet, I somehow made it back up, half-carried by angels, broken bones and all. The bruises linger, but the bones, to my wonder, have healed and the bleeding stopped. I wasn’t done for. As long as I had breath, as long as I could form my words, the world had a place for me. Like the page in this year’s California’s Best Emerging Poets anthology. And the classroom in the private university where I taught composition this past semester. I had walked past that door many times early this year, wondering why a job at a homeschool center across the street wasn’t working out, when God had my name on that door, His writing on the wall. We launched Drummer Boy this Fall. (After 12 years of indentured servitude coupled with preteen warfare, I was done. I practically threw him over the school fence.) It was time for me to launch, too. I enjoyed the teaching immensely, and although the steep learning curve on school protocols, the grading platform, and the amount of writing to grade made for a ride under a dam that had burst, I didn’t feel mentally challenged. And the impossible hunger pangs for the writing – to do it, not just teach it – didn’t help. I’d been away from the page too long.

In thinking through what the upcoming years might look like for me unchained to my son, I discovered the other night a generous, astonishing opportunity a prestigious institution had extended me on LinkedIn months ago. Two, in fact, when I failed to respond. I glossed over the solicitation before tearing up the golden ticket and tossing it not only because the timing was implausible for me as a mother, but because it was such an amazing invitation I couldn’t wrap my head around it. Then there was my age: my son’s long-awaited self-sufficiency would put me over 50. Yes, I want to build a career with the teaching and writing, but I’m supposed to start tiring after 50, not go pursuing the academic equivalent of a rhino chase on an African safari. But Awesome Friend #1 started taping up the ticket: It seems doable, she wrote. And Awesome Friend #2 pressed it in my hand : Why limit yourself? Who cares how old you will be?

Turns out, I was the only one who cared. I was the one who intended on losing steam after 50. And as the playback on my life revealed, I was the one who’d chosen the classrooms with the low ceiling all these years, afraid to prove I really wasn’t smart or capable. But we won’t find our greatest self where it’s safe or comfortable. Retired Navy SEAL and seemingly superhuman athlete David Goggins says we have to suffer. He named every fear he could before running straight into each one because it was only when he had to decide if he would go on with the broken leg and bloody hands that he met with his highest self, not when he was downing a dozen doughnuts on the couch at 300 pounds. He discovered “that the answers are all in the suffering.” Accustomed to them, I am very good at anguish and affliction. I am less skilled at mapping the endurance into lasting victory beyond survival. Hope is not a plan. And no matter how we might dress it with color on a vision board, hope glorified, called a dream, will remain nothing more than a pretty picture without concrete day-in, day-out goals we move toward both physically and mentally.

I am coming out of a brutal year, one in which I faced the hardest truths about myself. And yet grace has met me in the dungeon, thrown open the doors, and held up a breathtaking life that is mine for the taking if I will shed the self-doubt and get to work. At just a few words from friends who wouldn’t let me shortchange myself, my life took on sudden definition. So I’ve drawn up a game plan that will reorder and fuel my life, the things time and stress had gotten in the way of, but that now tangibly serve a larger purpose, from organizing my house to working out again, studying, and writing. No longer am I sitting and hoping that my writing will be good enough and that the future will favor me. I’m gettin’ up to go git it. I will make my work good enough, silencing the imp on my shoulder that’s whispered all my life: but there are so many writers better than you. I shoved Goggins’ book in her face and refuse to hear her out anymore. I couldn’t care less who’s over me or in front. I will continue to write as though my life depends on it because it does. God has shown me that the works I have published and the classes I have taught are only a prelude to what He has in store if I will reach for the life that is bigger, so much bigger, than my failings and my fears.

219 thoughts on “It’s All in the Suffering

  1. Wow YOU ARE INSPIRATION! Keep on keeping on! It blesses our faith walk too! GOD BLESS YOU MIGHTILY!!! β€οΈπŸ’•β­οΈπŸ™πŸ˜€

      • I don’t fully understand your remark.: after all, I don’t have children. Too many times, I’ve felt slothful with my free time after work.
        Anyway, I turn 61 in a few wks….so I’m not really contemplating on a totally different paid job. But so far, there have been some unexpected turns in the road.

        May 2020 , which only happens once with this double digit repeating number, be better.

  2. I love your writing, and am so, so glad to see you are back at it here on the blog! Sorry, but I just had to laugh at “your throwing over the schoolyard fence.” I did the same at that same age, lol! Freedom, and then reinventing myself…God speed!!

  3. This might sound cheesy, but woo-hoo to you Diana! That is amazing a prestigious opportunity came your way once, and twice. It is meant to be. You have come along way with your writing, sharing it on here, and it’s become so much more bigger within and outside of you. Keep writing. We reading.

    Happy New Year πŸ™‚

  4. Way to go, Diana! I never took you to be one who wouldn’t get in the fight. Losing is guaranteed only for those who never try. I was once encouraged by a veteran teacher early in my career in his saying: “If you get through but to one student then your career can be considered a success.” As is so with one soul that finds its way to heaven for which the angels rejoice. Greater only is the one responsible for directing that soul. For he/she has secured the place that Christ has prepared for him/her.
    -Alan

  5. Nice to meet you. Wishing you all the best for 2020 and beyond! Thank you for visiting the Doglady’s Den and liking my “Delurking” post. I shall peruse your site as well. Cheers!

  6. Wishing you all the best. The writing has chosen you, it seems. But then, that’s what it tends to do. My advice – just write. You can edit, prune, sculpt, cut and redraft it later – so long as the words are on the page…

    • Hey, Lani. Actually, no, I never believed that, but I do plan to bang even if it’s just my head on the desk, lol. Something. Anything. I’m all in. If I don’t grab my life by those horns, I can’t expect anyone else to do that for me. I hope you are well, sleeping, writing, teaching, being your fun self. Here’s to a better version of ourselves this year.

      Xx

  7. Good luck, and God help you in your struggle. Here, that is the UK, this is a lighthearted comment, not to be taken seriously. But I like your passion.

    Joanna from naturetails.blog

      • You can’t argue with his story and results. Although I’m not sure he understands that excess cannot mean true health, even if we’re talking fitness. But I get that fitness is not what he’s been after. I appreciate how he studied his mind. Rich Roll, actually, who interviewed him, has stolen my attention. Not only Rich’s own extraordinary journey, but his thoughtful, rich engagement with his inner life and the many friends he’s made through his podcasts. Articulate man.

      • I remember Rich Roll from the Joe Rogan podcast. I’ll have to revisit that episode. Coincidentally, it’s the same podcast I learned of David Goggins. After that episode I was so motivated to do something I went for a run. I haven’t gone for a run since..lol. Wait, that’s not funny.

  8. ‘Go git it.’ The simplest truth, often the hardest to find. The core philosophy of the Geeta, part of one of the Hindu epics, summarises it as: “Do what you need to do, without worrying about the results,” Or, as Phil Knight might say, “Just Do It,” with a swoosh. Best wishes for your journey.

    • Every step I’ve taken since posting this has pointed North – even and especially through the setbacks. I am so happy to hear you drew strength from this, Eileen. I wish you the best of yourself and each day as you adjust to your new life. Change is incredibly difficult but also opportunity.

  9. It’s comforting, in a manner of speaking, to know that there are others who have self-doubt as well. Your post is timely as I’m on the cusp of challenging myself to go where β€˜angels fear to tread.’ I will admit I’m scared and also excited but if I succeed (or should I say, WHEN I succeed πŸ€—), I will be embarking on the seed of an idea and hope this new direction will utilise my strengths and of course, expand as well and hopefully go from strength to strength. I sincerely wish you well as you move forward. Bouquets to you! πŸ’ ~ Wendy

  10. Wow. That… Was one of the most amazing non-fiction articles I have ever read. I mean, I know you have probably around 50 years of writing practice under your belt, yet still, this was extremely outstanding. Your writing invokes thought and contemplation, a searching to grasp the more full meaning of what has been said. No wonder you have recieved an invitation to teach your passion at a prestigious school.

    What books have you published?

    • Hello Liam,

      I appreciate your taking the time with the generous feedback (although I am not yet 50). The answer to your question is that it’s in the works. =) It is sad that planning and research often keep authors from laying down their first word. But maybe that’s because I don’t do rough drafts. My LinkedIn page lists my publications, and if you’re interested in a peek, my work site is writexpressions.art. I appreciate the support. Keep that banner up. =)

      HW

  11. Diana,
    Wishing you lots of happiness with your new opportunities! You are more than enough to live the life of your dreams…and you always have been (well, at least as long as I’ve known you). 😊xo

  12. As I approached my “senior citizen” status, I gradually dismissed all of the “what if’s” possibilities in my life. Sure– I could have been more aggressive in attaining more lofty goals. But today’s final result — I couldn’t be happier, especially after reflecting on all the wonderful experiences during my time on this planet. Nice hearing from you again. Peace.
    Art

    • There is a lot of hype out there, actually, about achieving more, more, and even more still. In the end, we know ourselves. Goggins, whom I quote here, believes we ask too little of ourselves. I think this is true for most of us. But the masses are also deeply discontent. It is beautiful when who we are aligns with what we do and say and have dreamed. Thanks for the thoughts and the support, Art.

  13. Thank you for sharing this inspirational post, so glad I read it this morning. The sky here is grey but the promise of a red sun is on the horizon, just like your words, re-starting my day.

    • Appreciate your taking a moment. I heard someone say recently that we overestimate what we can accomplish in a day and underestimate what we can in a lifetime. What a wonderful truth that frees us from the day’s pressures while reminding us that each day’s work matters in the big picture.

  14. Thank you for sharing!!.. the universe knows I am not into religion but I believe there is a saying “God promised you a safe landing, he did not say the journey would be a smooth one”.. πŸ™‚ that being said, whenever a hint of doubt enters my mind, I follow the advice of Roy Bennett; β€œDon’t be pushed around by the fears in your mind. Be led by the dreams in your heart.” (Roy T. Bennett)… πŸ™‚

    Hope all your tomorrows are filled with peace, love and happiness and life is all that you wish for it to be…..

    β€œWhen you are truly inspired by some great purpose, some extraordinary project… your mind transcends its limitations, your consciousness expands in every direction, and you find yourself in a new, great and wonderful world! Then those dormant forces, faculties and talents inside you become alive, and you discover yourself to be a greater person by far than you ever dreamed yourself to be.” Patanjali β€œ

  15. Oh, how your words resonate with me! After supporting my sons through home education and on to college and university, I found myself at a crossroads, but simultaneously suffered health issues. I think our strength emerges out of our suffering and we find that hidden power to drive us on. Reading your post has inspired me this morning. Thank you and welcome back πŸ™‚

    • Oh, I’m sorry for the setbacks, JT. After all your giving. That you welcomed the hope in this post shows you were open to bigger and better things and a new story for yourself. I’m so glad you could use mine as a stepping stone for your journey. Thanks much for letting me know, and for the warm greeting.

      Hug,
      Diana

  16. This stirs my soul and resonates so incredibly deeply. Yes, it’s time now to throw off all those self doubts and go for it, write like there’s no tomorrow and live the best life. Wishing you wonderful things in 2020. πŸ’« xx

  17. So, in Romania now is 10 o’clock in the morning. I sit with a cup of coffee in my lap and tear at your wonderful post when I should probably prepare for work.
    You are such a great person, with so much power and experience and I believe in you, for sure you will succeed and your writings will make a difference, as this post is making for me at this very hour in the morning (I say this because I finish work at 12 AM the other day, so bear with me πŸ˜…).
    Keep up the good work, don’t let the fears affect you, and remember, your soul has the youngest age you will ever imagine, in fact it doesn’t age at all.
    Thank you for keeping me inspired! πŸ¦‹πŸŒΉ

    • Thanks so much for the encouragement, Katherine. And I like how you helped me picture you with the coffee on your lap, although we have switched places in the night and day now. I love the reminder that the soul is ageless. Working out helps bridge the gap between body and soul!

      Hold onto the joy.
      HW

  18. Hardship is what creates us. I haven’t fallen off a cliff yet but I have broken bones, lost all the skin off the bottom of my feet and been violently ill in the backcountry. I don’t think i want to lose those experiences. They inform me of what is important in life. They made me a better person.

    Do not let age get in the way of your dreams. I am 64 and dabbling in the theater. Who knows what I’d be doing today if I’d tried it as a younger of 50?

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