To the Pain
The writer Mark Manson makes a good point when he talks about success in life. He says: “What determines your success isn’t “What do you want to enjoy?” The question is, “What pain do you want to sustain?” The quality of your life is not determined by the quality of your positive experiences but the quality of your negative experiences. And to get good at dealing with negative experiences is to get good at dealing with life.” He lays out how this question needs to be answered for success in the blog:
Shakespeare reminds us that there is some pain in life that we all try to avoid but sometimes can’t. A surprise diagnosis, a betrayal of trust, an untimely layoff, to name a few. Some “thing” that blindsides us so hard we don’t know which way is up. His answer to this type of pain is a walk through it.
“I am in blood
Stepped in so far that, should I wade no more,
Returning were as tedious as go o’er.” Act III, MacBeth
Kind of like the fire swamp in Princess Bride. The place they needed to get to was on the other side of the fire swamp. Like pain, there is no way around it, no way under it, and no way over it. Only through. Inside were flame spurts, lightening sand and rodents of unusual size. Yeah, it’s a campy visual, but completely accurate.
When someone is in the blood, no trite phrases will help. Absolutely, we want to be encouragers to our people and remind them that one day they will be through. But we don’t dare hinder the steps into it. “Well, just forgive them/it/whatever so you don’t get bitter.” Nuh-uh, feel it all. I personally love bitter people when they have a reason to be. Not those who live there but those who pass through and yell and cuss at the pain of it all. How about, “Just think positively.” Give me a goddamn break, spin will not take you through, just make you dizzy in the meantime.
Some of us love our superhero movies, but I’m personally thankful that “powers” aren’t a real thing. If I’m in the blood and have heat vision? I’m gonna scorch the earth. Probably why the vengeance movies are a hit as well. The feels are so heavy, we want a target instead of taking that walk. But it’s a zero sum game. This blood that was spilled and caused our pain cannot be erased by spilling more.
I’ll go back to Mark’s words, “to get good at life is to get good at dealing with negative experiences.” As for Shakespeare’s quote, returning isn’t tedious, it’s impossible.
We have to walk through, with our heads held high when we can, dodging spurts of fire, clawing our way out of sand, and beating the shit out of the rodents of unusual size. The only way out is through.