Question #3 for the Tiny Buddha Book of Wisdom asks, Why is there suffering in the world? My answer, (in 140 characters or less), Suffering is one of life’s lessons for the person experiencing it and for the person who can help ease it.
While it is an enjoyable challenge to impart my thoughts on all ten questions being asked by Tiny Buddha (for possible inclusion in a book being released next year) I also see it as an opportunity to expand on my answers from a Roatan Vortex point-of-view.
Recently I watched the movie The Road—adapted from the novel of the same name, written by Cormac McCarthy. I had read the book on one of my return flights (after visiting family and friends) from Ontario, Canada to my home on the Caribbean island of Roatan, Honduras.
I was intrigued when I read the book, even though, at times I struggled to follow Mr. McCarthy’s writing style. But I remained detached from the situations father and son found themselves enduring in this tale of a post-apocalyptic world—it was too far removed from anything I could comprehend as plausible.
Then I watched the movie…
It is the story of a father and son in search of the basic necessities to sustain life: food, water, and shelter. There is no electricity, no resources for clothing, shoes, or transportation. What time it is, the day of the week, or even the month of the year doesn’t matter.
The relevance to Roatan?
There is certainly none in the scenery. Father and son wander through a bitter cold world of solid grey skies that the sun is unable to penetrate, a bleak landscape of dying and dead foliage, vehicles abandoned on over-passes, and burnt out skyscrapers. When they reach the shoreline they encounter a body of water reflecting the steel grey sky.
Roatan on the other hand offers a world of endless sunshine and warmth, with lush tropical foliage from the shore to the highest ridge. There are no overpasses or skyscrapers. And the Caribbean Sea surrounding this tropical paradise reflects every shade of blue imaginable. Something I had previously thought only possible in re-touched photos.
But yet for a father and son who live on Roatan, I can simply copy and paste this (previous) paragraph to describe their lives.
It is the story of a father and son in search of the basic necessities to sustain life; food, water, and shelter. There is no electricity, no resources for clothing, shoes, or transportation. What time it is, the day of the week, or even the month of the year doesn’t matter.
I met this father and his son last week at the library in French Harbour. It was a time of day when the library normally would have been closed, but I was there painting. The father knocked on the door, and asked if he and his son could come in. I explained that the library wasn’t officially open, but they were welcome. While I continued to paint, the man picked out some picture books for his son to look at—the father couldn’t read and the son was only 2 years old.
The father then shared their story with me.
He was looking for work and was open to doing anything, for any wage offered, so he could take care of his son. The son was well behaved while the father searched for a job, but needed some relief from the heat and tedium of following his father around. The air conditioned library with colourful children’s books lining a few shelves was the father’s treat to his son.
When they left the library, the father smiled and his son waved goodbye. I watched them walking away, hand-in-hand, and I wondered where would they go next? Has the father found a job? Do they have access to the necessities of life?
What I offered the father and son was minuscule. What they offered me was a huge reminder that suffering comes in many forms and magnitudes and by being aware of it—I can help ease it.