About Pain: The Magic Kingdom
Admittedly, this isn’t the most “uplifting” subject matter, but it might be one of the most important and complex things I go into. Might be.
This will take more than snapshot sophistication, meaning, there’s a lot to delve into here. It may be best to simply make this an introduction into the topic.
What makes me an authority on pain and suffering? Nothing. Nothing special, here. Just another guy pushing that boulder up the hill. Sisyphus or Tantalus, sorry, I’m losing my grip on mythology. Anyway, getting back to it, I have had some protracted bouts with seemingly insurmountable physical pain, and I will say that that sort of extended suffering transcends everything. It becomes your whole world, in a sense. Tell a person in pain it doesn’t matter. Yeah, it’s useless. And cruel. What I’m saying is, don’t tell a person that.
Quickly hit pause. This is not a treatise on whining and wallowing. It’s about suffering. Suffering is fact. Whining and/or wallowing are emotional responses. Just so we’re clear.
If one is too unsophisticated to understand that they have suffered and will continue to do so in this life, then they are simply ignoring the data. This might be called cowardice, and it might be the only thing worse than pain. Cowardice is inevitable, however, and nobody’s brave all the time. And it’s totally understandable.
Let’s get it out there. I’m stricken with cowardice. It seems to rise from my stomach like acid sometimes, threatening to choke me and steal from me whatever it is I want to do in the wide world. However, I swallow it down (generally), pick up the pieces, refuse to succumb. Generally.
This is the rudimentary premise that I want to touch on and will continue in a series of blogs on this topic.
If you’ll indulge, here’s why I think this is so fundamental: First, it’s my opinion that the world is too deeply engaged in denial of suffering, albeit unwittingly. Again, if you’re saying to yourself that this is obvious, I have thousands of words and the rest of my life to argue that it’s not. Second, I want to connect and find commonalities with other writers and creators; going into some of these dark places and rooting out pain is a big part of growing as an artist. It’s what art is, to a large degree.
Why? I think Vonnegut said, paraphrasing, “give your character a problem, and see them try to get out of it. People never get tired of that story.”
It can’t get more accurate. All stories are problem-based (there’s a few strange exceptions) and therefore pain-based. What’s a problem but pain to be conquered or alleviated? It’s cathartic to read or watch someone else go through toil, dramatically or comedically. We recognize it in our bones. Whether the character be king or crackhead, there’s something that resonates.
Probably best to take a breath there. It is the weekend after all. And I plan on doing as little suffering as possible today. Yes. Even now I can be a smartass. We’ll talk tomorrow.
See you after.