He did not know that the new life would not be given him for nothing, that he would have to pay dearly for it, that it would cost him great striving, great suffering. But that is the beginning of a new story—the story of the gradual renewal of a man, the story of his gradual regeneration, of his passing from one world into another, of his initiation into a new unknown life. That might be the subject of a new story, but our present story is ended.
-Fyodor Dostoevsky, from Crime and Punishment
These final lines of Dostoevsky’s novel come like a much-needed glass of water to a parched throat. The book, which begins with Raskolnikov’s horrendous act of murdering a pawnbroker and her sister with an axe, explores his mental, psychological and spiritual downward spiral. It’s a painful read! But if we can endure Raskolnikov’s pain, not to mention a few hundred pages of Dostoevsky’s exploration of the negative ramifications of nihilism, utilitarianism and anything espoused by Nietzsche, we see that just maybe there was a point to all this suffering.
That’s my big take-away from Crime and Punishment. I’m not advocating that we willingly become martyrs, which too many of Dostoevsky’s characters do. I don’t think we get any points for intentionally placing ourselves in self-harming situations, but it does seem to be that the greatest growth is a byproduct of some of the most challenging times in our lives.
So maybe a question to ask is—what is your new story? We, our world, our environment are all in a state of constant flux. However good or however bad today is; tomorrow will be different. So, what is your new story? How can this moment—however painful or pleasant—propel you to the next chapter of your story? You’ve got the pen and you’ve got the paper, so maybe it’s time to start writing.