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Coping with Suffering– Part 1

“The wound is the place where light enters you.”

–         Rumi (13th century Persian poet and Sufi mystic)

Roald Amundsen was attracted to wilderness. Even as a young boy growing up in Norway, he desired to be the first man to reach the North Pole. However when he heard in 1909 that two Americans have made it to the North Pole, he was disappointed and decided to be the first man to touch South Pole instead. Meanwhile British Naval officer Robert Scott cherished the same desire and he was supported by the Admiralty.

Who would touch the Antarctica first? While Scott prepared for over twelve years, Amundsen kept his plans a secret till the last days. As Robert Scott began his journey, Amundsen telegrammed to say he had already begun. Thus began an intense competition to be the first man to reach South Pole.

Dogs, motor sledges and ponies were used by both parties with meticulous planning to journey the 800 miles. The terrible weather of minus 40 degree Celsius was no deterrent to either person. Finally after three months, Robert Scott arrived at the pole only to discover a Norwegian flag – Amundsen’s team had preceded them by five weeks. Scott was shattered; he wrote in his diary, ‘the worst has happened…all my dreams crushed.’ He suddenly found the place awful. Anguished, he began the return journey where rough weather, scurvy, frostbites, and lack of proper support led to each member of the team meeting a tragic death.

One would imagine that although Scott felt crushed, Amundsen would be happy at his historic achievement. Ironically while Scott became a martyred hero, Roald Amundsen was also disappointed. He reflected, “Never has a man achieved a goal so diametrically opposed to his wishes. The area around the North Pole- devil take it- had fascinated me since childhood, and now here I was at the South Pole. Could anything be more crazy?”

If you have been reading self-help books that prod you on to lead an unwavering life of success, then you’ll be disappointed when real life shows you it’s different.

Life throws up surprises every day and our determined plans could very well fail.   

To be continued…

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