We must embrace pain and burn it as fuel for our journey.
– Kenji Miyazawa, poet and story writer (1896-1933)
Personally, given this as the alternative, I’m not so much bothered by paying $3 a gallon. Yet this does remind me of a passage from Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott:
Writing is about learning to pay attention and to communicate what is going on. Now, if you ask me, what’s going on is that we’re all up to here in it, and probably the most important thing is that we not yell at one another. … “Ah! Stuck in the shit! And it’s your fault, you did this …” Writing involves seeing people suffer and, as Robert Stone once put it, finding some meaning therein. But you can’t to that if you’re not respectful.” [Bird by Bird, page 97.]
What a fine little book Bird by Bird is. I keep it handy all the time. It’s one of those books that serves as a sort of tuning fork for my creative world, and it’s in no way to blame for my stuttering, atonal FAIL. I’ve never been able to confirm the Stone quote, but it’s cool too.
In my experience, pain isn’t a good fuel. Recovery is, maybe. But pain is like a wildfire; it makes it’s own weather. It’s self-propelling, whether physical or psychic, because the stress of being in pain makes the pain worse. And the best path from pain back into recovering life is a good nights sleep, such as only comes when the pain subsides. That’s why the driving force of human advancement is as much pain relief as enlightenment, maybe more. But neither Miyazawa or Lamott are saying that pain itself is the creative groundwork. It’s the burning of it, the finding of meaning therein that serve the artist. Am I right?
Lamott goes on to call the writer, “a person who is standing apart, like the cheese in ‘The Farmer in the Dell” standing there alone but deciding to take a few notes. You’re outside, but you can see things up close through your binoculars.” Interesting. Compassionate detachment.
Blessed sister, holy mother, spirit of the fountain, spirit of the garden,
Suffer us not to mock ourselves with falsehood
Teach us to care and not to care
Teach us to sit still
So the poem I posted earlier this evening, Shelter, is about compassion. It’s something to hope for, standing on a high place, because I do not hope to know.