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Surviving life

“It’s gonna hurt.” -—Mike Tyson

At age 20, he became the youngest boxer to win the heavyweight title. He won his first 19 professional fights by a knockout, 12 of them in the first round. One sportswriter said he was the “most ferocious fighter to step into a professional ring.”

When Dateline’s Byron Pitts asked Tyson, now 54, “If you could talk to 20-year-old Mike, what would you say to him?” Tyson summed it up, “It’s gonna hurt; it’s gonna hurt bad. It’s gonna really hurt.”

Therapists and theologians concur.

Psychiatrist Scott Peck’s first three words in a book that sold over six million copies are “Life is difficult.”

The first of the four noble truths that Gautama Buddha taught is “Life is suffering.” Sanskrit scholars say that a better translation than suffering might be dissatisfaction or frustration or stress or change. Regardless, life’s gonna hurt.

Alan Paton, South African author of “Cry, the Beloved Country,” penned these words for his son’s confirmation day: “Life sees you coming, she sees you come with assurance towards her. She lies in wait for you, she cannot but hurt you.”

I like the way Unitarian minister Robert Fulgham helps us put things in perspective: “If you break your neck, if you have nothing to eat, if your house is on fire, then you’ve got a problem. Everything else is an inconvenience. Life is inconvenient. Life is lumpy. A lump in the oatmeal, a lump in the throat and a lump in the breast are not the same kind of lump. One needs to learn the difference.”

Each of us decides which of life’s lumps are tragic, almost unbearable (a 9.5 on a 10-point scale) and which are hurtful (a 2?) or leave us deeply wounded (a 7?) but are not insurmountable.