Naively trying to escape suffering, some people would go far just to avoid taking risks. Let’s talk about love and attachment, for instance. Being vulnerable to love or being attached to a person, is like being addicted to a substance. You want to be with them all the time. Not having them around can cause withdrawal symptoms close to that of alcohol and drug withdrawal. Experiencing withdrawal is a major suffering, you become obsessive to the object, and there’s always a chance you would relapse after a “successful” attempt of letting go.
But do you really think it is wise or even possible to not allow yourself to be vulnerable to attachment? While love and attachment may put you in an emotional turmoil, not experiencing it wouldn’t bring you as much joy as you’d wish, too. As a human, we crave to feel something, to be ecstatic, to experience pleasure.
Besides the joy and misery of loving someone, there are many other things we have to go through; we have to carry around some dose of suffering inside our little pockets. Trying to abstain from suffering is like chasing your own shadow, you can never touch it, you can never get there. Hey, I’m not a pessimist, I’m just being realistic here.
American psychiatrist and best-selling author M. Scott Peck is a believer in individualism, pointing out in ‘The Road Less Traveled’ the importance of self-actualisation, self-discipline, hard work, and sufferings. He highlights each point on his actual experiences with clients who came to consult their problems with him. Peck has a way of writing that is long to reach a point, he takes time to make sense of a case. His style can be frustrating at first, but his points are eye-opening as you keep reading.
On several occasions, I came so close to abandoning the book altogether. Peck kept on talking about therapy sessions and the importance of attending, in an effort to pull readers to participate in one, and maybe more. I don’t mind a little advertising, but the guy just couldn’t stop writing about it, man! At least to me, I find it extremely annoying. But I gotta say, I’m glad I didn’t drop it; it turned out to be quite enlightening.
Another excessive discussion I found annoying is his conversation with God. Don’t get me wrong, I believe in the Higher Power, that someone is bigger than myself. But his excessive discussion on the topic gets so long to a point of irrelevance to my personal interest.
All in all, the books is rich with stories. Most of the scenarios highlighted in the book are relatable even to ordinary people. It encourages readers to embrace changes and transformation, rather than get scared of what they can’t control.
With ‘The Road Less Traveled’, we get to realise that life is a rocky, uneven and dangerous path; but it’s always worth the adventure.
Author: M. Scott Peck
Publication: Simon & Schuster, 1978