Old Post: The Value of Struggle

I’m moving quite a few of these from Facebook for my own protection, and to get a little more viewing. I think it’s worth a read. Enjoy!

The Value of Struggle by Michelle Lunicke

Originally posted: November 18, 2010

I want to define what I mean by struggle. As I live in a developed nation with a job and a reasonable amount of means to not truly struggle for survival in terms of food, shelter, water, war/conflict…struggle in my world is for the most part delegated to an emotional or psychological experience.

I struggle socially, I struggle in my relationships, I struggle with nature, I struggle to achieve balance, I struggle with my faults, most prominently I struggle with my evaluation of myself.

For years past this struggle was overwhelming, frustrating, and relentless.  I forfeited my life to the struggle more times than I can remember, being exhausted of “the game.”  It was in the slow incremental submission to life’s struggles that I found some peace. This peace transformed from the defeatist term “giving up” to a more zen term “letting go.”  Acceptance.

This addicting enlightenment became the new goal: to live in reality and accept my situation without struggle. To accept my faults without struggle, to accept all things without struggle, while never losing my hope for improvement.  I can say I learned a lot from taking this position. I can say many of the things I thought were worth struggling over disappeared once I was able to dis-empower them.  I can say I learned how to be more patient and graceful with myself.

And tonight I learned a new side to a much older lesson.

There is a savage woman in me.  A wild woman. A woman who creates and destroys.  A being that has no use for disembodied meditation, but who lives according to her nature: violent, hedonistic, frivolous, scarred, ecstatic, irreverent, and frenzied. I’m not just a conscious being.  I am also a feral being.

While taking the time to do a moving meditation, I rediscovered this nature.  Without a thought I imagined the binds of my mind on my body.  Had I been in a headier space I might have ignored them,  tried to imagine them falling off my body, or remembered that all binds are illusory.  But no, this body would not be satisfied with that. No, this body would not be castrated and left impotent to do its brand of justice on the experience.

hands-tied-with-ropeI struggled. Quite literally. I squirmed contorted, angry like some spirit of vengeance.  Every ounce of strength was devoted towards the destruction of the offense.  I cried, grunted, panted, gnashed.  Kali knew me then as I used every kind of violent gesture against an invisible oppressor.  In the exhaustion that followed the battle, I felt the utmost satisfaction in victory.  I felt like I was remembering for the first time in years, the value of struggle.

My new age-y friends might chime in here to remind me that suffering has no intrinsic value, that there is no reason to struggle when aligned with Spirit, (all consciousness) which knows all, understands all, accepts all. I’m not sure I’m saying that “suffering” has intrinsic value.  I almost always associate suffering with frustration.  Isn’t struggle a refusal to remain frustrated? A Buddhist might say suffering comes from attachment to illusion, and that my struggle is a sign of this attachment to an illusory problem or result.  I’m not sure I’m saying struggle is only beneficial when it results in a victory.  Sometimes the struggle itself might be the only sane course of action as an alternative to victimhood or martyrdom.

Perhaps what I’m saying is that struggle aimed at our benefit can be about the most life-affirming thing we can willingly engage in.  Perhaps sitting back and peacefully accepting everything outside of us has a disadvantage, even to our enlightenment.  Perhaps, being the embodied humans we are, full of blood and guts, and bile, and vigor, we need to accept our bodies’ desire to be satiated.  Perhaps we can accept our struggle by naming it with a less judgmental word: EFFORT.

It is through effort that the body understands meaning and progress.  It is through effort that we have the context to appreciate peace, significance, achievement.

My mind might be opening towards enlightenment, but this ancient shape is bent towards carnality. Bodily experience, bodily pleasure, bodily justice, bodily effort.  I have no intention on dying to the flesh.  I have no intention of ignoring the temple for the goddess.  One must always have a home.

As I walk this world, I am reminded the impact of manifestation.  I am not just a mind, nor thoughts. I am a body that is directly responsible for the communication of all the above.  I cannot and should not deny it succor.  It must be satisfied to the benefit of both.

Hand open/fist clenched/hand open/…..

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