Suffering Fills a Room.

I read a quote recently in Viktor E. Frankl's book Man's Search For Meaning.

A man’s suffering is similar to the behaviour of gas

No matter the size of the room gas may be pumped into, it fills the space fully and evenly. Frankl equates this to a man's suffering filling their soul and mind, regardless of how 'great' or 'little' the suffering may be. Thusly, the size or amount of suffering is completely relative. 

This analogy is quite poignant coming from a man who survived the unfathomable horrors of Auschwitz and many other World War II concentration camps. These experiences are not something to be wished upon anyone, nor should they be trivialised. They are all numerous and horrific, so much so that I won't even begin to try and explain them here. Instead, I suggest reading his book to allow yourself to be educated, humbled and gratified for the life you have.

Despite the suffering he experienced and witnessed, Frankl emphasises how all-consuming suffering can be, regardless of circumstances. The way he describes suffering could easily lead one to forgive those who may be troubled by - what may seem to be - petty issues. For as he suggested, suffering will fill your mind, regardless of the size of the issue.

It is because of this that when we see someone distraught over the minute sufferings of daily life we may want to offer them our pity. For even though we will never experience the horror's of Auschwitz, it does not discredit our own feelings of suffering. We can then extend this mindset to those who seem to suffer from the smaller issues in their lives, that compared to our own, do not seem worth worrying about. For while their issues may not always be as horrific as others, their feelings are still legitimized through simply experiencing them.

That does not mean we should not maintain some amount of perspective. For while it is true that our feelings of suffering are justified, it does us little good to ignore those in worse circumstances. Perhaps through empathising with and helping those in worse circumstances, we can indirectly gain some amount of consolation for our own suffering. This does not discredit our situation but might bring about change enough to see past our individualised suffering. From here it is possible to realize that suffering, whether in the past, present or future; whether big or small; or whether it happens to us or a stranger, is a constant in life.

As Viktor E. Frankl explains, we should not ask what is expected from our lives. Instead, we should look to see what life expects from us. As decisions, questions, and choices are laid before us, in moments of bliss or suffering, it is our duty to find the answers to our wholly unique circumstances.