Listening to Lao Tzu's the Tao Te Ching, I have been inspired in various reflections. One of those is truth and it's paradoxal nature. How the negative concept we have of something, can actually have a positive nature behind it and vice versa. One such example is pain. I'm often interested in growing, developing, pushing life forward, learning. Recently I've come to see pain as a catalyst for these things. It is when we are in pain, suffering, that we go within. And when we go within, thats where real change begins to happen. And when we are comfortable, happy doing so seems irrelevant. Happiness seems more about experiencing the moment, the opportunity, the object, the experience. And when I talk of pain, I mean both the mental (more so), than the physical. I have become obsessed with swimming in the ocean, and doing so in SanFrancisco a few days ago brought both the physical/mental pain. It was brutal. The temperature was ice water. 2 minutes in the water, an ice cream headache ensued and minor panic set in. I stuck to it seeing if I could break thru it. Coming back to land, I felt rejuvinated, strong, and confident. This has become a model for which when going back to the realities outside the water, that I now try to apply and see the pain process as. As one to yield to, not only to grow, but to heal. Here is the writing in the piece-- the paradox of pain. How we invite pleasure, but deny pain. The two however, are inseparable. For that which brings pleasure is fleeting by nature, and its loss, or attachment there of results in pain. The paradox perhaps however, may be found in looking at pain as opportunity. Opportunity towards wisdom, that is learning about ones self, about the world. This is growing, moving forward and if not is not content in the stagnant nature of being, then one surely wants to move forward. How to do so? Looking inside, self examination. Awakening to ones self from periods of sleep that we all fall victim to. So it does it make sense to even think such thoughts when all is going well, when one is experiencing pleasure, happiness. NO. There is nothing to be examined in euphoric moments, rather to be experienced for all that its worth. But its when those structures that brought this feelgoodness disappear, we are left to ask the question of 'who am I?'. Those things that i identified with, no longer here, so what is left? Me. I. And in this place of opportunity for higher development, a divide in the road is provided. One path is denial. Do anything to numb the pain, deny the reality of its existence. Trying to reenact those structures of happiness that were lost in ways of immediacy. But this is the bandaid over the soul wound. All the medication in the world will not resolve that feeling of being so alive that is deeply uncomfortable. The other road is welcomed by a yield sign, and on the other side is a dark forest of mystery. It is on this path, where one walks into darkness, darkness within darkness and will find confrontation with ones self. One enters the forest, and in the lack of any visibility, the internal goes haywire in fantasy of terror. But like stages in a recipe, this only the first and it is usually the preliminary stages that are the most difficult. So past this, a little deeper, a little further light spots on the ground are discovered and hints of light reveal themselves thru branches and leaves. One begins to use ones eyes again, and profound experiences unveil such as the appreciation of sight that one had forgotten for so long. And a shift happens where one experiences deeper pleasure, but from nothingness rather than external materialism that one had only known before. And the excitement snowballs, for the realization is that not only is this euphoria free, but it is eternal and not fleeting unlike all else in the universe, including all that brought one here to this place. And when one is done with this hike eventually, the world outside looks bright and inviting again. For one is healed and ready to experience life outside of ones self again. But it will always be different after taking this hike.