To be human, and to live a human life is to be, (at least in part) almost continually beset by: pain, hardship, and obstacles.

Strangely, far from being the despicable and discouraging news that this, on the surface, appears to be; I believe that this is not necessarily a bad thing….

In fact, I believe: pain and obstacles can be a great impetus to our continuing growth and evolution.  And furthermore: that a life lived without them would be largely useless and benign; bereft of much of the merit gleaned and accrued from the full gamut of human experience.

But (and here is the kicker), without the correct approach to these things, without the correct guiding idea, we can all too easily spiral down into a dark pit of: victimhood, learned helplessness, and general malaise.

How can I possibly prove all this?  Why am I even talking about it?  And what is this ‘guiding idea’ that will set us all aright with the world?

You know, as capricious chance would have it, I have fortuitously prepared an answer to these very questions. ;-)

Shall we dance?…


Oftentimes, in the human condition there is pain.  Whether it be: individual, collective, physical, emotional, economical, sociological, or scatalogical; sometimes there are obstacles, sometimes there are hardships.  Sometimes, things just don’t go the way we think they should.

On the surface, it may seem that it would be way easier and much more pleasurable, (in the short term at least) if our every wish and inclination were to simply pop into being, without any kind of testing or hardship.  But, let’s be honest for a moment here.  If this was in fact the case, the world would, in all likelihood be: twisted, malformed, ash-blackened and scorch-fucked beyond any and all semblance of reason or doubt.

Conversely, the idea that: pain can be a necessary, vital, even useful part of life does not seem, at first glance, to be in any way: attractive, pleasant, logical or desirable.  I mean, pain is simply bad, right?


What if: pain, resistance, hardship and obstacles of all colours and stripes were oftentimes necessary and vital for our continued growth and evolution, both individually and as a species?  What if, in order to grow and evolve, we needed to push against our limits, overcome resistance, and fully immerse ourselves in the process of: transcending, transmuting and overcoming said hardships, pain, and obstacles?

If that were in fact the case, wouldn’t it change, not only how you viewed these things, but also how you responded to them?

For a moment, cast an eye back over your life.  Chances are, you will see that: your greatest periods of growth, your greatest achievements were, oftentimes: conceived, birthed and nursemaided from the deepest and blackest pits of your despair.  That which appeared at first an unthinkable tragedy, now seems a blessing, wrought in heavy disguise.

Of course, this is all very easy to say.  It is most always easier to talk theoretically.  It’s a little harder to deploy this idea whilst you’re under fire, in the fray, and fighting for your life from the dark and muddy trenches of pain and despair.  But it is not impossible.  The first step is always a new and better idea.

I have written previously about the importance of upgrading your guiding ideas and personal philosophy.  Succintly put: I believe that better, and more evolved ideas, result in a better, more evolved, and generally happier life.  And nowhere is this more true than in this case.  Why?  Well, partly because pain is a universal part of the human experience.  So the way in which we choose to understand and respond to it, has a major influence on the direction of our lives.  This choice, while seemingly small, is like an Archimedes lever.  Very simple, but at the same time, potentially world-shifting.

The Story Behind This Post…

This week I have experienced a lot of severe toothache.  There have been two trips to my dentist.  Much sleep has been lost.

Originally, this post was about a wildly different topic but, given the circumstances in which I found myself, this seemed a lot more timely.

Hope you are well,

– J

My name is James Radcliffe and I am a 100% audience supported independent artist.  If you like what I do (and can afford it) then please consider buying some of my music.  Each purchase really makes a big difference to me and 10% of every sale goes to a charity which: houses, feeds, clothes, and educates orphaned children in Nepal.

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116 thoughts on “ The Road is Not Easy (and Nor Should It Be) / A Meditation on Pain. ”

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