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Forget, Work, Love

Welcome this pain for you will learn from it.


The problem of pain is that it paralyzes you. It is not so much the opening up of the wound which hurts you but it is the slow, patient waiting which happens after the hurt which requires greater strength. We can become numb to the pain itself, or increase our tolerance for it, or even will our way against it. But we cannot will our way in order to heal if to wil against it is to apply the same amount or greater pressure to cancel it or overcome it. But that would mean playing into its hands: this is why, instead of healing, we hurt ourselves even more when we counter the pain with another force much like revenge. Pain, hurt, loss all tell us something. One then has to listen and learn their from lessons. And this takes time, reflection and distance, or in a word, it takes healing. Much like waiting, we can do nothing but learn as we heal. Perhaps, nothing more than listening to and learning from the pain is asked of us. And if it is true that we become the lessons that we learn, then there is no greater teacher than the pain we go through. When I look back, I find out that the person I am and have become has been molded and formed not by the happiness I enjoyed but by the fires of pain I went through. Fire burns and melts, but it also forms and molds. And this is the paralysis of pain: you cannot resist what burns you and all you can do is wait until you cool off and see the new shape you have received. We never immediately see what we have become because of what we have learned. But with faith, much like the hope that we one day become better swords because of the fire and the blacksmith's hammer, we believe that the pain will go away and the wounds would reveal a better person.

I have found three things that one can do while waiting for the fire to cool or the wounds to heal. That one must learn how to forget, work and love.

Forgetting perhaps is the toughest of the three. When the pain still stings, how can one not feel it or still smart from it? The mind fixes itself on what overpowers it or confuses it, and this is why we find it hard to move on. I do not know the psychological reason why we remember more the pain we go through than the happiness we receive, because it makes more sense to relish the good memories than dwell in the bad ones. So there must be some meaning to remembering the pain--perhaps, at least, in order to protect us from another possible and similar pain. But the difficulty in remembering is that the mind doubles the pain that the body already suffers from. And the body heals much faster than the mind. While the remedy for the physical hurt is healing, the cure for the mind's sickness if forgetting. It is difficult to teach the mind to forget because it is not one of the mind's functions like thinking, remembering or imagining. In order to forget, absurdly, one must not try to forget. The only way to forget is to distract the mind and give it no chance to remember. Now we all know how impossible that is. And this is why forgetting needs the distance of time not merely to forget completely but in order to transfigure the memory of that pain into something new, something other than merely a source of hurt. With such space and time, perhaps, the pain will be forgotten but the lesson remembered. The meaning of what I remember is not fixed as it changes with time. Hopefully, what remains with me is not the anguish of pain but the meaning of it framed against a deeper understanding of it and its place in my life. As I understand it more, the more I learn, and the nearer am I not only to forgetting but also to forgiving.

And if the mind has to be distracted in order to forget, then there is no better way to do this than to work. When the hands are moving and busy, the mind follows. As matter occupies space, activity forces the mind to pay attention to what is done and fixes itself on the task. Doing something makes the mind present to here and now, delivering it from the pain of the past and the uncertainty of the future. Work gives a person responsibilities that he must or should answer to. And responsibility gives a man dignity: it gives him value and worth. I then realize that I can again be important to this world which has been silent in my sadness. It matters not what kind of work it is. Forced to be in touch with the world and others, work makes me human again.

And lastly, to love. If pain's lesson is to humble me in front of a world that I do not understand, then I can do nothing better than to reasses my life and see what is of value to me. Love is the opposite of pain and not pleasure. For pleasure can only be pleasurable when it is human pleasure, when it is borne, given or received in and with love. By allowing one's self to love and be loved, one completes the process of healing in that what was once miserable and fragmented is gathered as a whole to be given in love. And I can only give what is whole and formed and new. What I then give in love is my self, the self which has been informed and formed by pain. Loving and being loved teach me to trust once again, to learn how to expose myself anew to an other who receives me. That I begin to trust an other: this implies forgiveness. The world cannot be too much that I cannot ever forgive it. And even if we go through the passage of tears only in order to love, then so be it, for the deeper the pain, the harder one loves.


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