Pain in My Heart

I probably won’t be able to write much this week, due to work and social pressures.

Who am I kidding? It’s due to work. I owe my soul to the company store.

But I’ve been wondering about this: Would you like to read a novel or see a movie in which all the characters have what they want in life or are happy with what they’ve been given? In which everyone is confident that they are loved, and no bad guys are around to upset things? If the protagonist surmounts all his daily difficulties with a smile and any little hurt is smoothed away by the end of the scene? Would such a story hold your interest?

Mostly we don’t want to read or see that story, because we want to see conflict and the testing of spirit by adversity.

But are we looking for an idyllic world in our real lives? I think we think we are, and therefore we are always surprised when we – or someone we respect – goes and does something that can only lead to conflict and drama. Maybe they tell off their boss. Maybe they don’t adhere to the dress code at the country club. Maybe they pick – or choose to stay with – a bad boy/bad girl lover, one who’s sure to mistreat them, and hurt them.

Should we be surprised? Why do we do these things that lead us down the road to heartache? Do we need such pain in our hearts?

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17 Replies to “Pain in My Heart”

  1. A book came out in Italy a few years ago in which the author interviewed people about what happiness was for them.
    Alberto Moravia, a rather famous writer, said, “I do not look for happiness. I look for expression.” I agree with him. Happiness comes after the expression of who I think I am.

  2. I am becoming more and more aware of the threads of masochism in my life, and not the fun, bondage kind either. The idea of happiness, however imperfect, is scary to me, and I think that’s true for a lot of people. People are comfortable with what they know, and a lot of people out there know pain. I agree with Molly that happiness isn’t necessarily the essential thing. As you pointed out, it certainly doesn’t make for gripping art. Still, I’d like to embrace a little more of it, just as an experiment.

  3. Molly – Great authors. They’ve got something else going on. What about regular people, like me?

    Erin – I wonder if we need the pain. I mean, really need it.

    G.D. – Bring it babe.

    Ron – Does somebody need a hug?

  4. What a can of wormz. A year ago I ended a marriage with a guy that would have categorized himself as happy; a hard worker, a financial provider. The dream man for the woman that wants nothing more than a nice house and a fat checkbook…and a guy that leaves her alone. Work, TV, sleep; lather, rinse, repeat. Lights off, windows closed…no friends, no movies, no coffee, no dinners out, no arts, no laughter, no talking. It was not for me, for the rest of my life…and there was no talking him out of that lazyboy, baby.

    Am I happy now?

    I’ll admit to a bit of drama and heartache, here and there. I am still redefining, and readjusting.

    But this, these ups and downs, working an extra part-time job, and clipping coupons, and not knowing when I’ll ever travel again…

    …this is still better.

  5. gnightgirl – More and more I’m thinking that we don’t really want the smooth, comfortable life, but we tell ourselves and our friends that we do, thus setting up a state of emotional turmoil that we can’t escape from, without doing weird things. My condolences and congratualations on your new life.

    T1 – Your question is the same as mine. Do you have the answer?

  6. I believe that for the same reasons that you seemed to imply. We wouldn’t recognize the non-painful moments or appreciate them if there were nothing bad to compare them to. Our society defines just about everything based upon what something is NOT, rather than what something IS. If there were no sad, how would we know we were happy & be able to fully appreciate it? That is my question. If you can answer it, then I will change my original answer.

  7. We love and hate ourselves at the same time. Maybe when we just accept ourselves then we can stop testing how much pain we need to feel to make sure that we’re still capable of feeling?

  8. We need the pain, yeah. We may not like it, but we need it. Because without the darkness, what is light?

    That being said, the Chinese curse “May you live in interesting times” is a lot more dastardly than it appears at first glance.

  9. T1 – Do we want to have misery? I ask this because I see people who seem to cause themselves pain, by putting themselves in the way of it, when it would be easy to avoid.

    kStyle – I guess the world is too much with me.

    Aydreeyin – Welcome back! I long for that kind of self-acceptance. Sometimes I think I have it, then it disappears.

    Slink – I’ve always wondered what that meant. I didn’t know it was a curse. “Interesting times” meaning nothing truly important is happening? Just distractions? That could be crappy.

  10. It’s all about the Yin and the Yang. How can you have the sweet without the sour? Is it possible to appreciate the spring without the winter? I don’t think so. I don’t think we can truly be at peace without the turmoil, be it present or past. I think there is a part of us that think other people have it worse than we do, or have problems that we can’t fathom. It makes us feel better about our own issues. Call it distraction, call it interesting times, it’s just…life.

  11. I object on grounds of fuzzy philosophy!

    The concept of yin and yang may appear dualistic, but it is actually about transcending dualism. The idea is that yin and yang are parts of the whole, the Tao or Way, the Taiji or Supreme Ultimate. According to the Tao Teh Ching, the One became Two (yin and yang), and the Two split into the 10,000 Things. In this scheme, enlightenment is about transcending false dualistic thinking. Darkness and light are one. Cold and heat are one. When yin or yang becomes extreme, it turns into its opposite. The ever-changing balance between yin and yang creates chi, life-force, which is symbolized by the lines in the Taiji (yin-yang symbol).

    OK, sorry, carried away. Let me get back on track.

    It is our false dualistic thinking that creates “good” and “bad”. Everything is Ok in the proper context. “Darkness”, “light”, “sour”, and even “pain” are neither good nor bad in themselves, but our mind assigns such value and therefore causes suffering. Pain is not so painful if you breathe through it, allow detachment from the label of “pain”, and observe. Then you will notice that 1) the set of sensations we label as “pain” lose some of their bite if they are not labeled as such, and 2) “pain” is temporary and fleeting, quickly turning into its opposite, like all phenomena.

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