As the blues musician David Bromberg sings, "You've got to suffer if you wanna sing the blues." But really, you've got to suffer if you are a human being. Even the most seemingly charmed life endures its times of suffering, be they great or trifling, spiritual or physical, brief or extended, temporary or final.
Let's face it: We avoid suffering. Who wants to suffer? We'd rather not. We want life to be pretty and rosy. We shy away from pain or disappointment or disillusionment. We seek escape in alcohol or drugs, material gain or food. We chase the elusive concept of personal happiness, which we are certain is just over the next rise.
We also avoid other people who are suffering. We keep them at a distance, as though they are contagious, which they usually are not. We would like a hand sanitizer for real life. When someone is grieving, we say things like, "I never know what to say." And so we say nothing to that someone who could probably really use a sympathetic listener or an accommodating shoulder on which to cry. We cross the street or go down a different aisle at the grocery store to miss the encounter. We dread the face of suffering.