Where do you find comfort?

Life has endless beauty but also horror. Most of us will encounter the darkness at some point. What do you do to cope?

I keep reading the news despite, or perhaps because of, the grief it brings. Most of us will encounter life’s horrors at least once. Some of us have faced it again and again with episodes of pain accumulating like snow into the avalanche of complex trauma. Whether we attempt to make the world a better place or give up, we are presented with the challenge of finding solace.

And some comfort is necessary. It is not possible to live well while witnessing horrors in their raw form. Invariably, we all find some comfort somewhere, somehow.

Some find it in beliefs that place those horrors in a narrative of all existence where darkness is far outweighed by light. The narrative in any version promises our eventual return to the light, our origins. In this, horrors pass, and we must simply endure long enough.

I do believe this, but it’s not my main source of solace. Speaking only for myself, in the moment, this narrative is not as strong as the nightmares that life presents. That may be why I felt like giving up while traversing every dark night. They all felt like they would go on forever. Then I would find some relief only to discover far worse experiences playing out for millions of others in the news. It feels endless.

Some find comfort in distractions. In recent months, rounds of short videos, one after the other, took the edge off when certain realizations sank in—realizations tied to what I lost after cancer and chronic illness, poverty, and other traumas swept through. Distraction only works for so long, and within that time, the heart gradually deteriorates. Distractions cannot stay as strong as the grief they seem to keep at bay.

I seek distractions too often, and I want to change that impulse, but it became a habit. Still, something within calls—it holds up a vivid image of a more gratifying state where quiet is comforting and not a wide open gap into which more fear and grief can pour.

By far, the greatest source of comfort I have ever found is in the act of letting the horrors of life provoke my heart to love.

Not attachment love or idealistic love but the wordless force that rumbles through the atoms of my cells in recognition that all targets of abuse are the same as myself, and well-being is wholly wanted. That love does not require me to suffer the suffering of others, doubling it for no good purpose. It just arises and little by little compels me to dedicate my days to helping in some way. That love is as raw as the horrors on a day devoid of distractions or hope…making it just as potent and twice as strong.

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