Thursday, September 08, 2005

~ : P A I N : ~

Does anyone but me have the urge to look back at very painful moments in your past - to dwell there for a while? I do. All the time. But it's not depressing. I find it thoughtful. FULL of thought.

I've always been a serious, quiet kind of person, unless I'm in the classroom where I can't keep my mouth shut. But generally, I'd rather listen to a Chopin nocturne than listen to dance music. Not that I dislike the latter. It's just that I find such beauty in all kinds of pain - whether I'm trying to emote the feeling, or to understand someone's pain. I find it fascinating. Somehow it makes me feel more real. More alive. Less alone.

I think Pain has a job. I had a friend tell me once that he thought Pain marked a path. I've heard someone else say, "One can only feel as much joy, as sadness has carved a space for." Okay. That hurt. I won't do that again. Or I'll do it differently. Use a different tool. We spend our lives making all kinds of decisions based on previous experiences (mistakes!?!).

It seems we spend so much of our time avoiding pain. When you're in it - because it's unpleasant, you're thinking FUCK this hurts and was the WRONG thing to do. But it's got a purpose, doesn't it? It motivates and moves you.

I had another conversation with a computer programmer who talked about how computers learn. Looks like they learn from mistakes, just like we do. Figures. We MADE them and use our own lives as a technological blueprint. It's all so linear. So basically, LIFE and CODE work the same way. We know when a computer works. When it doesn't work, well then you've got to dig to figure out what the problem is. That digging is frustrating, yes. It's called growth.

You don't learn anything from succeeding. You only learn when you fail. Failing is a necessary component of growth. So maybe I should be less hard on myself? Especially on other people. Wasn't Lincoln a loser before he became president?

I think I want to make friends with Pain. I wish that when I'm feeling the worst of pain, that I can be peaceful and accept it. Work with it. See it as another tool for progress. Reach out to others because of it, rather than removing myself and pushing it and other people with it away. Maybe pain isn't so bad.

I am wanting to live in a world that doesn't shrink from pain. I can't tell you how excited I was when I discovered HBO's Six Feet Under. FINALLY, there's artful substance out there that's not afraid to talk about the very painful reality of death. Loss. Grief. I mean - it's a HUGE thing that links all of us together! So it can't be all that bad, can it?

Have you ever tried to find the bereavement section in a bookstore? You have to look really hard. And it's pretty small, compared to all the happy stuff. Makes me furious. I remember trying to find a book about miscarriage. After finally finding the Death and Dying section, I found TWO books on miscarriage. Infuriating. I mean come ON. In the whole bookstore there were TWO!! Why don't people want to talk about that stuff? About pain? Are we that spineless? I think book stores should better reflect real proportions of the common human experience. We ALL die. Living in spite of pain can make you stronger. Provides depth of experience. Makes life more precious. Meaningful. REAL. If I EVER own a bookstore.......

Ahhhchhh. Nevermind.

I will sign off with two poems by Mark Strand. I think the first poem, "The Dress" illustrates how pain works and works FOR us. The second poem, "The Guardian", illustrates my desire to trust it.


The Dress
- M. Strand

Lie down on the bright hill
with the moon's hand on your cheek,
your flesh deep in the white folds of your dress,
and you will not hear the passionate mole
extending the length of his darkness,
or the owl arranging all of the night,
which is his wisdom, or the poem
filling your pillow with its blue feathers.
But if you step out of your dress and move into the shade,
the mole will find you, so will the owl, and so will the poem,
and you will fall into another darkness, one you will find
yourself making and remaking until it is perfect.


The Guardian
- M. Strand

The sun setting. The lawns of fire.
The lost day, the lost light.
Why do I love what fades?

You who left, who were leaving,
what dark rooms do you inhabit?
Guarding of my death,

preserve my absence. I am alive.


Anonymous said...

Once when I was going through an excruciating time someone told me that "You cannot know the light until you have been in the dark." For this reason, I love pain. It means that through the pain there is realizations and growth, and a new appreciation of the good. Wisdom comes from the experience of not knowing, and then figuring it out. A knowledge of what is truly good for a person only comes when they have suffered through what is truly bad for them.
I can't get the login thing to work. This is k.

Anne Elser said...

So Pain isn't useful unless you make it so.
I've known people who seem to be in constant pain, sadness, etc. It was the biggest thing in their lives and was all they ever wanted to talk about. This was in art school - where there were plenty of people whose problems were the most interesting thing about them. It was excrutiating. I wish I had had the wisdom then to ask them about this very subject: making pain work for you. One has to step outside of the victim role to assess the situation. I admire people who can do that.