A love letter about pain
It couldn’t have been more awful. The terrible tragedy in Las Vegas, coming on the heels of a month of devastating natural disasters, was almost too much to bear. People I know and love are suffering from these events. And on top of all that, I have a friend and a family member in the hospital—one dealing with surgery, one with the aftermath of being hit by a car.
My heart weeps.
And yet, on the other hand, things in my personal life are pretty good. I had a wonderful time in France, and got a lot of writing done there. My agent is excited about my next project and still sending out the first book. After a month of physical therapy and a cortisone shot, the pain in my body has lessened considerably and I’m walking more again. I have great clients and fun upcoming teaching gigs. My family is amazing.
How to reconcile all this? How to exist, feeling grateful for what I have and yet heartbroken for the pain in the world?
While in France, I posted photos of all the things: the Mediterranean Sea by day and night, the phallic tower that rises above the water in Collioure, dogs and cats and beautiful old people. And all the while, back home, hurricanes and floods and fires swept the land. Should I not have posted photos of what I was experiencing in deference to the disasters? Should I have included a disclaimer with everyone, something to the effect that I knew what people were going through and sent them love?
In other words, as I told a friend, I’m asking: what should my response be? How do I live in this world now?
Luckily, that friend was the very wise Patty Bechtold and she told something that really helped. She’d read it years ago, in the work of Robert Johnson. He likened such experiences as standing in the middle of a teeter-totter, with one foot on either side. Balance. Getting comfortable with the gray area in the middle, even though most of us would much rather like things plain and simple, in black and white.
And maybe we just need to accept that this is how we must live now.
I’ll tell you what helps me live in the gray areas. Two things: creativity and connection. I found solace in my writing this week. And I also found it in connecting with friends and family. Maybe these things gave you solace, too. I hope so.
So here’s the only antidote I have to offer to make sense of the gray area: take to the page. Write your pain out. Or focus your energy on your current writing project. And when you are finished, go kiss a child, or a pet, or your spouse. Call a friend; say hi to a neighbor. Email that aunt you’ve not talked to in a long time.
Creativity and connection. I’m astoundingly grateful for them both.