The “So What” Factor

An excerpt from the book That’s It!.?  This chapter speaks to the suffering that has touched all our lives in one way or another and how we choose to relate to it so we can own our decisions, our current situations…and Own our 24!

– The “So What” Factor.  No one has suffered like me, or have they?

“Wisdom is knowledge perfected by suffering.”

– David Mamet

“I have stood here before inside the pouring rain
With the world turning circles running ’round my brain
I guess I’m always hoping that you’ll end this reign
But it’s my destiny to be the king of pain

King of pain
I’ll always be king of pain
I’ll always be king of pain.”

-The Police “King of Pain” (Synchronicity 1983)

“In all life there is suffering”

– The Buddha

Perhaps you’ve come from a dysfunctional family or an abusive relationship of one kind or another.  No question that sucks.  But rest assured if this is your particular demographic, you should know that you are anything but alone.  Most of the recent studies we’ve read claim that anywhere from 80-85% of families have some level of “dysfunction” maybe the stat about in them.  Divorce is rampant.  Stories of abuse, neglect and abandonment are almost commonplace.  It would take anyone with an interest less than ten minutes on the internet to find more statistics than they care to read on this stuff. 

It would appear, sad and horrific as this is, that these are not necessarily unique events.  This in no way shape or form is meant to trivialize these kinds of experiences, but it would seem that there is no shortage of atrocities being committed on a daily basis.  Hey, maybe that Buddha guy had a point!  Maybe there is some suffering in everyone’s life!

If the statistics are accurate, you will find only 15 or 20 people out of 100 that don’t have a story to tell.  The two of us are no exception.  We both have our own negative experiences that would qualify as dysfunction.

That which does not kill us makes us stronger.

– Friedrich Nietzsche

Thousands of tragedies and atrocities are occurring throughout the world on a daily basis and millions of people have been and will continue to be affected.  At some point along the way, on our journey from birth to death, we will suffer one way or another.  This isn’t doom and gloom it’s just…life.

Ultimately, what can we do?  Should we isolate and medicate all those affected?  This of course begs the next question – what condition would we be treating?  The Human Condition?

I may be clapping my hands, but I do not belong to a crowd of hand clappers.

 – Rumi


Just because you were unlucky enough to have encountered an abusive experience doesn’t mean that the water you’re in was pre-heated and you’ve got no choice but to sit in it and cook. Again, who is to say what poison is and what’s medicine?  Consider the fact that the negative experiences may actually help you going forward!

Your failures (or suffering) can soften you; render you more permeable to worlds you may never have countenanced if you had always met with success in the world of action.  The heart, like a grape, is prone to delivering its harvest in the same moment that it appears to be crushed.  The beehive in your heart is humming precisely because of those failures.

–          Roger Housden

If you’re reading this right now chances are you are human and you will have these kinds of “conditions” to deal with.  Our time is best spent understanding this rather than struggling against it.  These experiences don’t own you, but you have to own them.

If we chose to focus on it, we could find virtually unlimited pain and suffering in this life; every kind of abuse and every kind of excuse to lie on the kitchen floor and roll around wallowing in our own largely self-created misfortune.  However, we all know that optimism is an intellectual choice.  It is a choice, it’s our choice, and it is only our responsibility to choose wisely.


Lost again
Broken and weary
Unable to find my way
Tail in hand
Dizzy and clearly unable to
Just let this go

I am surrendering to the gravity and the unknown
Catch me heal me lift me back up to the sun
I choose to live

I fell again
Like a baby unable to stand on my own
Tail in hand
Dizzy and clearly unable to just let this go
I am surrendering to the gravity and the unknown
Catch me heal me lift me back up to the sun
I choose to live, I choose to live, I choose to live

Catch me heal me lift me back up to the sun
Help me survive the bottom

Calm these hands before they
Snare another pill and
Drive another nail down another
needy hole please release me

I am surrendering to the gravity and the unknown
Catch me heal me lift me back up to the sun
I choose to live, I choose to live

–          Perfect Circle “Gravity” (Thirteenth Step 2003)