|Ai Weiwei, who is not crazy.|
Pain is inevitable;And often I restrain myself from commenting, for I know people mean well, and want to be happy, and I know that's what the Four Noble Truths seem to say. But I am not much of a respecter of authority. I go on my experience this life, which is also a fundamental premise of my church, UU, and of Buddhism, at least of the freelance American Zen I practice: be a lamp unto yourself.
Suffering is optional.
And I have bipolar disorder; used to say "I AM+ manic-depressive." This has changed, in a move to get mental illnesses accepted as illnesses, and I respect that. But the fact is, I AM bipolar. I swing from hypomanic to depressive, with symptoms normal healthy people never have in their whole lives. It's very much me. It informs my creativity and empathy and spirituality and sense of humor, and rules my calender. Sometimes it terrorizes me and ruins my sleep and causes physical pain and rips up relationships irretrievably (though not relationships worth saving). For decades, I took many many medications that helped me "pass" - until they destroyed my kidneys. (Warning: whoever you are, when you get your annual physical, get copies of your own labs and do enough research to understand the state of your health. Don't let your doctor make the decisions.)
I do thank Sylvia Boorstein, one of whose early books I reread recently, in which she takes care to say that she has not "solved" all her suffering, not yet anyway. But that her practice has helped her soften, restrain herself at times, maybe get over things with more ease. Yes, me too. She allows that is possible for a normal human to achieve that advanced enlightenment; she just doesn't know anyone who has - and she knows all the big people.
If it is possible at all, if that's what enlightenment means, maybe it's possible for a bipolar. And if I get there, if I find out how to not suffer during these painful, disabling hours, sometimes months, I will certainly share the news. (Practice has helped me considerably, and I share thoughts on that from time to time here, too.)
Meanwhile, everyone should chill out on this positive thinking trip. Accept that you have pain and sadness and disappointment. Sometimes things get you down. Have some chocolate and take it easy on yourself; don't expect to defeat all your conditioning and your ancient twisted karma and be smooth and clear and grateful for every f------- painful person and moment in your life. Some days nothing helps. That's* the truth.
+ Bipolars LIKE all caps.
* Bipolars really like italics.
p.s. My Spellcheck thinks bipolars is not a word. That's not stigma, though. Just software.
p.p.s. There is an asteroid named after Ai Weiwei, whose art and life support human rights in the face of frightening oppression.