As stumble through Monday, our eyes firmly set on the sweet release of Friday, I think about how something pleasing or rewarding is often gained through blood, sweat, and tears.
“The path to paradise begins in hell.” – Dante Alighieri
It begs the question – is struggle bad?
My personal reaction to that question is, no. Struggle is the great building block of humanity. But I think a person’s point of view on struggle, hardship, and the dark paths in life is what can turn a hard time into a learning experience.
I have a dark side (things that go bump in the night give me goose bumps of pleasure). Trouble and hardship don’t bother me. I don’t want a life full of strawberries and cream. My day-to-day better not mirror an episode of “Leave it to Beaver”.
As a voracious reader, I expect to find my latest literary acquisition to be full of trouble, failures, torment, and the ensuing battle/struggle to overcome and survive. Otherwise, the book would be pretty damned boring.
I can’t expect life to be much different (life and art DO imitate each other).
I’ve been reading a bit of Dante Alighieri lately. The Divine Comedy is a masterpiece. I looked at his journey through hell, purgatory, and then to heaven.
In my mind, the most applicable thing he wrote about was the journey. The struggle upon entering darker paths had the famous post “Abandon hope, all ye who enter here.” Who hasn’t felt this? But he pushed on, despite the sign, and reached his goal.
Dante made it to heaven. The symbolism is valid for me. I don’t need to believe in the Triune God he saw in the story. But if I allow myself to be moved by his story, by his ability to pass through darkness, trials and struggles, then it doesn’t matter what vehicle he used to deliver the message.
It was a solid story with good advice and healthy ideals. Here are a few quotes from Dante that I enjoyed:
“O human race, born to fly upward, wherefore at a little wind dost thou so fall?”
“The man who lies asleep will never waken fame, and his desire and all his life drift past him like a dream, and the traces of his memory fade from time like smoke in air, or ripples on a stream.”
“Lost are we, and are only so far punished,
That without hope we live on in desire.”
“Thy soul is by vile fear assailed, which oft so overcasts a man, that he recoils from noblest resolution, like a beast at some false semblance in the twilight gloom.”
Struggle can be a bitter pill, but one we must take. Why not take it with our shoulders squared, our chins up, and with hope and understanding that we can/will be better because of it.
Do you have favorite quotes or authors that inspire or push you when you are walking dark paths?