What Today Brings
“Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional.” – The Dalai Lama
There seems an unhealthy phenomenon running rampant in too many relationships. What I am speaking of is the act of unkindness toward the person closest to you, the one who has put themselves in the unfortunate position of relying on the protection of their offender. This morning I heard of the divorce of a couple I had viewed as the happiest of couplings. Of course, you never know what goes on behind closed doors, often the public façade is quite different than the reality. What appears to lie at the root of cruelty toward a loved one, be it man or woman, is insecurity. Fear of abandonment and a lack of confidence leads to a dangerous attempt to sabotage the accomplishments and happiness of the other in order to keep them, or drag them as the case may be, down to the misery they have for their own state of being.
Compassion does not come naturally to all. This is mind bending for those of us in which it comes naturally. One with healthy self-esteem never wishes to damage another’s sense of self-worth. Quite the contrary, there are legions of men and women who spend years, possibly lifetimes attempting to build a person up and show them that they too are worthy of happiness, success and peace, often to no avail. If someone perceives themselves as a victim and is comfortable in that role, it is entirely possible for them to ride that dark wave clear to the grave and resent anyone and everyone without that same pain. There is an answer for those in personal agony and that is forgiveness and love. You can find it through Christianity, Buddhism, Kabbalah or whatever your path toward something bigger than yourself may be.
So many cultures, religions and schools of philosophy point to the same thing, we have the choice to take our individual experiences and grow into more compassionate human beings. We don’t have to swallow and hold on to cruelty bestowed upon on us as children or adults, we have the choice to let it blow through and away from us. We can realize the infinite beings we are and breathe love in, hatred out, love in, hatred out … if we so choose. Or one can hold on to each grievance, beat their head against the wall, or beat someone else’s head against the wall, in a vain attempt to put them in the self-imposed prison he has found himself living.
My literary hero, Tennessee Williams, who endured more than his fair share of heartache, said it best, “Be yourself. Try to matter. Be a good friend. Love freely, even if you are likely- almost guaranteed- to be hurt, betrayed. Do what you were created to do. You’ll know what that is, because it is what you keep creeping up to, peering at, dreaming of. Do it. If you don’t, you’ll be punching clocks and eating time doing precisely what you shouldn’t, and you’ll become mean and you’ll seek to punish any and all who appear the slightest bit happy, the slightest bit comfortable in their own skin, the slightest bit smart. Cruelty is a drug, as well, and it’s all around us. Don’t imbibe.”
You cannot love the pain out of someone else. It is a fine line to care deeply for someone, hurt for them and with them, while at the same time protecting your own precious life. One thing I know is that Tennessee is absolutely correct – cruelty is a drug. Don’t imbibe.