Wednesday, March 29, 2006

barometer for beauty

i had an interesting conversation with a friend last night regarding the necessity for pain in a person's life. he argued that without pain, we wouldn't recognize and/or appreciate beauty if we were to see it.

i know my writing holds a certain depth and texture directly related to the painful experiences i've had throughout my life. i believe that when a person reaches bottom, he or she has nothing to see but the darkness, and therefore is left to engage the other senses in order to find a way out of that gloom. with my fingers i touch the walls of my cell, noting the uneven and slick surface, cold from the lack of sun to cut through the shadows. with my ears i hear the silence, a sonic vacuum absorbing sound so that i can listen to the voice of my own thoughts as it unfurl a crackled mental map giving me direction on how to find my way out. with my tongue i can taste my fear, my desperation, my determination, an acrid combination meant to leave me dissatisfied so that i find nothing appealing about my stay within those depths. with my nose i smell the remains of other decaying souls in other cells, signifying the defeat they have chosen to accept instead of the challenge they could have chosen to tackle. with my sixth sense, the most important sense of proprioception, i am attuned to exactly where i am within the darkness. i feel each cell, each membrane, each organ, each limb of my body, as i refuse to lose myself, thereby making it impossible for me to leave.

these senses can be honed within the inky blackness that can be anguish. however, there is also the possibility of anguish overtaking one's soul. it can become that killer tsunami that destroys everything as its waters crash through the standing structures of one's sanity, leaving a wasteland absent of life in its wake.

and that is why i think while pain has a purpose, it is not necessary as a constant reminder of wonderful things within my life.

pain in itself can be beautiful, but only if it changes the spirit in such a way as to encourage continual growth, continual establishment of a foundation strong enough to sustain against natural disasters bent on destroying it. the pain found in life experiences can be seen as either lessons or punishment. if they're seen as lessons, one's mind is open to learning from that experience and using that knowledge towards making sure choices made in the future won't precipitate that kind of experience again. if they're seen as punishment, a person is likely to see his or herself as one who is undeserving of happiness, one who is supposed to suffer because that's how god intended.

i can't accept that.

because if i accept that, the times i was molested and raped are punishment for me being too naive, to unwilling to believe that people can do bad things. if i accept that pain is punishment, the death of my father is punishment for me being a bad child. i choose not to see these occurrences as punishment. they are the moments planted within my soul, but what sprouts from the soil depends on what i feed it. if i shower it with nothing but bitterness and anger, it will grow into vines, choking the good from me. if i shower it with love and the sunshine from a positive mind, it will grow into a meadow of flowers absorbing warmth, creating energy, manifesting into strength. i think i prefer that outcome...

i admit there is much within my life i notice now as a result of my painful experiences. i see the low sense of self-esteem curving a little girl's posture, making her smaller so that she can disappear from sight. i hear the need for love and acceptance in the frustrated cry of a little boy, even if he's only crying because he just lost to me in tekken tag team. i touch the suffering emanating from a woman's form as she frets over whether or not to remain or take flight, to sacrifice or to save herself. i taste the want for uplifting and support when i kiss upon the skin of a man. i smell the desire for engagement and investment and empowerment within my community when i do volunteer work.

and most importantly, i am keenly aware of my place in the world and the importance of preserving my space.

i thank god for those senses, for they have helped me to make sense of my life.

would i have gained this insight without the pain? i'm not sure, but i do know this...

i am...because of, not in spite of.