#13) Pain

This last week has seen two people that are closed to me lose loved ones.  I am fortunate in that neither loss affects me directly; one of the departed I only met once, the other never.  The deaths, both from cancer, happened peacefully in the company of loved ones.  But under no circumstances, of course, is a death easy to deal with.

It’s gotten me thinking about the issue of pain, not necessarily in the way that the kids at the local high school who listen to Morrissey do.  I’ve realized that while no one (well, almost no one) likes dealing with it, pain has some upsides.

Pain is designed to wake you up.  Bad things happen, but sometimes good can come from them.  Stanley Forman’s picture of two girls falling from a collapsing fire escape in Boston lead to building code reforms.  Rabbi Harold Kushner wrote “When Bad Things Happen To Good People” after the death of his son, and in so doing helped millions find peace and comfort.  Deaths in car accidents have lead to safety innovations; deaths from disease have lead to people rallying together to help find cures and support each other.

On a personal level, after my divorce a few years ago, I re-evaluated what I wanted in a relationship and started thinking about the type of women whom I seemed to be attracting.  There seemed to be a pattern that I hadn’t seen earlier, and when I recognized it, I was able to change it.  The result has been a great relationship that has been all I could have asked for.

Speaking of divorce, Reese Witherspoon had this to say after hers: “If it’s not painful, maybe it wasn’t the right decision to marry to begin with.”  In other words, sometimes pain exists because of better things, such as love.  Many people fear pain; they don’t want their feelings hurt or to have to deal with the discomfort.  But whether it’s a wakeup call or a result of having taken a chance, pain is a part of life, and it doesn’t have to be entirely bad.

The last word is left to Butters, the character on TV’s “South Park.”  After his heart is broken by Lexus, the girl who works at Raisins, he says:  “Well yeah, and I’m sad, but at the same time I’m really happy that something could make me feel that sad. It’s like, it makes me feel alive, you know? It makes me feel human. And the only way I could feel this sad now is if I felt somethin’ really good before. So I have to take the bad with the good, so I guess what I’m feelin’ is like a, beautiful sadness.”

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