There was a girl who cried all night. She cried until her memories were too far behind her to cry any more. She wept a sea so deep the water almost drowned her. She finally looked into that sea and saw a small island in the distance. She drifted to the island. Her efforts to purposefully dry her eyes didn’t seem to work. So she sat on that piece of land and continued to weep. She wept for hours. She wept for days. She wept for weeks. She wept for months. One day, she opened her heavy eyes. The tears were gone. She looked down into the clear blue water, the water that had formed from the tears she had cried, and she saw sea life below. Fish swam in schools, weeds swayed back and forth. The tears she had cried created an ocean filled with life, filled with beauty. The sadness had been so consuming that during her time spent alone, she had not been able to see what she was creating all around her. But in fact that sorrow had given her reason to produce life.
During times of hardship we often fail to notice the beauty of life forming around us. We’ve cried so deep, we seem to have suffered so long that we fail to see the joy around us and the life that continues to grow out of our suffering. By looking at our wounds, we’re able to trace our steps and see the larger picture forming around us. It’s really the tears and pain that force us to want to better ourselves as humans. The first lesson of Buddhism is that life is full of suffering. And to be honest, without the lows, the highs wouldn’t feel very great. It’s living with the highs as wells as the lows that produce the greatest outcomes. Kahlil Gibran wrote, “Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars.” Next time you begin to feel as if you’re drowning, remember that without character there would be no story and without a story to tell, a lesson to pass on, or a high followed by a low, there would be nowhere left to go.