Discovering Purpose Through Suffering: A Transformational Journey

In October 2013, I embarked on a journey to the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC), a trip that changed my life in ways I had never anticipated. It was here that I found my true calling in life – to be an advocate for the wild animals who suffer due to our actions, our pain. Sun Bears endure destruction; their homes are vanishing, they are hunted, their cubs are torn away from them, subjected to violence, and left to survive in the jungle with injuries that will never heal, all because of our human actions. Many of us choose to live our lives without facing the consequences of our choices, blissfully unaware of the harm we cause to other living beings.

It all boils down to choice, and in a world with access to information at our fingertips, there are no excuses for the way we live. We have Google to answer any question, leaving no room for ignorance. We must take responsibility for the impact our choices have on the other side of the world.

Somewhere in recent years, I had forgotten an essential part of myself that had been right in front of my nose all along. Gutuk, the Sun Bear, was the first bear I encountered at the bear enclosure, and he turned my life upside down, transforming it completely. I saw myself in his eyes. I understand that many people choose to avoid facing their own reflection because it stirs up emotions, often unsettling ones. I felt like I was falling apart, deep in my gut, as I gazed into Gutuk's eyes – eyes that were innocent and white, despite the cruel experiences he had endured at the hands of humans.

In his eyes, I saw my own blindness, the blindness that had taken over my heart. I saw a lifeless figure in the mirror before I decided to volunteer and immerse myself in the jungle, confronting the biggest challenge of my life alongside the wild animals who call it home. I saw a lifeless figure, my skin tone devoid of life, and I had lost the ability to laugh. My family and friends often told me they missed hearing my laughter. What was wrong with me, unable to laugh? I knew the answer; I had given up on living my life because the pain I had endured seemed too overwhelming.

When I looked at myself in the mirror, I was startled to see my father's eyes, a painful reminder of the time when my father was ill and took his own life. When my father chose not to live any longer, I made a promise to myself that I would not pass on the same pain to those I loved. The truth was that I did, and 2013 marked the beginning of a transformative and painful decade that shaped the person I am today.

Our past is the greatest gift to our lives, enabling us to unfold the truths we hide within. We often fear to confront our reflection in an innocent animal suffering because of our lifestyle choices. The uncertainty we bury deep within only resurfaces behind closed doors when we realize that we are not truly living, that we are leading lives that are not truly our own, and that our lifestyle is destroying the homes of other living beings. How can we claim to have a strong and healthy life when voiceless creatures are paying the price for our choices? You can't claim to lead a healthy life, both inside and out, when your actions are destroying lives.