As I was heading to get dinner after a community orchestra concert, I found myself pondering how I listen to different music depending on my mood, or the mood I want to be in:
Hard rock, usually performed by Australian bands, for when I’m agitated or want to be, or when I care too much, so I’m building a hard wall around my heart to keep me from feeling the pain, in an “I am a rock” way (and yes, I have my books and my poetry to protect me, in case you hadn’t noticed 😉 ).
Jazz for when I’m in a happy-go-lucky mood, or wish I was, or whatever I’m feeling, it’s like water off a duck’s back, and it’s not that I don’t care, but it’s all good, “everything is awesome, everything is cool when [you’ve got that swing]”.
Classical for when I’m at peace inside, or am trying to be, or when I am willing to let my heart feel those feelings that are flowing through me instead of building a levy out of back beats, distortion, and power chords to turn them away from my heart.
As I pondered, and decided on where to get my late dinner, I found myself driving to the place of my most serious accident. I didn’t do my annual pilgrimage on the date of the accident this year, so I figured, “why not?” I usually follow the path I rode my bicycle on, but tonight I came from the other direction. A whisper in my mind said, “Tonight you are the car.” I knew it wasn’t meaning I would hit someone, so I drove the path the car took. As I passed through what must have been the point of impact, I was hit with emotions (I was listening to classical, letting myself feel emotions) I hadn’t anticipated.
Grief, for how frightening the experience was for the driver. Relief, that to the driver, it appeared everything was fine, that despite the force of impact and despite my lack of a helmet, I was not unconscious, I was not comatose, and finally, that I was not dead.
I’ve always considered the miracle it is that I lived through that from my perspective (but of course). But now I realize there was a miracle performed for the driver as well! Tears escaped from my eyelids again, and I was glad I was taking the long way to Kneaders, so perhaps my eyes could merely be moist when I arrived at the counter.
© 2016 H.K. Longmore
Is Suffering Really Necessary?
Author’s note: I wrote this last week, in two cities and over hundreds of miles in the air, before Robin Williams left our sphere of existence. While that event and the subsequent news and social media flurry may color how you read this, and while some of it may even apply, to think I am making any statement about that would be incorrect.
This post showed up in my FB feed the other day stating:
Someone commented on that post saying that pain is necessary, but suffering is not. This idea is not restricted to that post or its comments. Over at society6.com, Josh Lafayette has an art print expressing this idea. And there’s a picture incorrectly attributing the idea to Buddha (the tl;dr version of the article: “Imagine someone in Asia posting ‘Jesus quotes’ (which are actually AA slogans) under a picture of Santa Claus, and you’ll get a feel for what’s [wrong with this picture]”).
The problem with reading the dictionary when you’re doing your spelling assignments in second grade is that you can’t let people misuse their native language with impunity. So let’s take a look at the root word “suffer“, as defined by the descriptive linguists at Merriam-Webster:
You won’t believe what happens next! Oh, sorry, this isn’t bait. I’ll leave that stuff on buzzfeed.
Posted in commentary, essays
Tagged art, atonement, auto accident, co-feeling, compassion, Edvard Munch, etymology, Fake Buddha Quotes, language, linguistics, medkänsla, Milan Kundera, Mitgefühl, pain, pietà, pity, semantics, soucit, suffering, The Merchant of Venice, The Scream, word misuse, współczucie