Bad Things Keep Happening

The fact that bad things can happen, and that there is no guaranteed way to prevent them from happening, or to prevent things from getting worse over time, has a strong negative impact on me.


It generates a large degree of fear and despair, probably more than is deserved.


Its apparent inescapability is radically frustrating. It leads me to feeling like there is no way out of a bad situation, a sentiment echoed explicitly by some spiritual teachers and traditions.


Those same teachers’ and traditions’ attempts to eradicate suffering and its possibility, however, have (most likely, it seems to me) failed, and cannot succeed. Teachers’ claims to the opposite strike me as fundamentally disingenuous, deluded, and escapist, even when otherwise very sane students profess the opposite.


On the other hand, it is also true that good things can happen, that there is no guaranteed way to prevent them from happening, or from preventing things from getting better over time.


And while the negative and positive statements are equivalent, for some reason I tend to feel more strongly the negative, and to feel more fear and despair than I do excitement and gratitude. This also is not the way things have to be, but it seems the way they have tended to be.


I remember the time when I first started to recognize this “fact of suffering” as a child. The fact was as frustrating to me then as it is now. It felt as though I’d been duped, or that there was some mistake or something broken in the world.


While I no longer see this fact as meaning any of that, I continue to struggle deeply with it and with the contingency of life in general.


I see no solution to this problem besides acceptance, focusing on the good, and continuing to work to make things better, while accepting that I’m not in control and there are no guarantees.