Today I write about suffering. Not because I want to, but because I must. I am compelled. It’s not because suffering has some form gritty promise of being somehow more interesting.
Most days, the zone between the stored, unprocessed grief, anger, fear, and sadness the largest percentage of the world relates to as somehow normal and me, that space is vast enough to keep me sane. However, there unmistakable days when that gap is no longer cozy, when the air seems to get vacuumed out of my lungs all in a moment, my eyes are burning and wet, and I’m nauseous.
Sitting in an air-conditioned state-of-the-art movie theatre with all-reserved seating, I have just been punched in the stomach. I am unexpectedly brought face-to-face with the emotions of September 11, 2001 in the middle of what seemed like another sculpted and coiffed romantic drama that I am very willing to dance with. With one simple reference, my body is doing everything it can to hold back a torrent of sound and tears. I am reminded in every viscera of my body and mind that suffering is.
As I write just now, I am not looking to be a popular voice. I am willing to say what will not leave me alone. You see this hurricane of sensation I’m feeling isn’t personal. I did not lose anyone personally close in the events of 9/11. I taste it’s flavors because I am human and I feel. I feel deeply.
There are times like this night when I’m faced with some flash, usually through music, art, or storytelling of any sort, in which I feel my nerves and my heart on the outside, and am overwhelmed with emotion. Secretly I sometimes want to run far away from these moments out of some misplaced fear that what I know myself to be will be totally annihilated by what I’m feeling.
And yet, when I reach through the outer layers of these sensations into a deeper core, I realize it is love I am feeling. It’s love that overwhelms me, not the grief, anger, fear, or sadness. It’s the intensity of love moving through my heart in response to the suffering I’m witnessing.
If I only engage with the outer layers, I’m liable to get triggered into acting out the emotions myself; drawing in a struggle with someone convenient to give permission to a projected outburst of energy and emotion.
When I’m willing to lean back into the quiet presence of love that cares for people, that wants for their happiness, that aches to spread a touch that would be a final relief to all forms of pain. When I’m willing to lean into this love, I am free.
If only I would remember this more often.
You and I are the same really. It’s just a matter of how big a comfort zone you’ve built around your heart. That’s the only difference between you and I. The love I’m pointing at, and doing my best to hand the steering wheel over to fully, that love is what binds us. Regardless of our aplomb at living it, tasting it, and knowing it, it’s the substance that runs between us. Some people call it God. Some scientists call it dark space between the cells. I call it life.
Apparently, today I’m writing about life, because I must.