Saturday, January 22, 2011

Trusting the Pain we did not Plan

No one plans for pain. We plan to succeed, not for failure or making mistakes. We all plan to be happy. To smile back at a world that smiles upon us. Our plans do not include days of loneliness, deep misery, or anxiety about the future... Of course not.

But fact is, pain is part of life and like the seasons of the year, it is certain that new growth can only be real when we go through the dreaded cold. I remember farmers telling me in the region where I grew up as a child: "As die winter lekker koud was, is die vrugte lekker soet..." (when the winter is nice and cold, the fruit will be sweet). 

So here I am, still making peace with pain - trusting the pain I certainly did not plan. David Richo writes a book about the things we should embrace - the 'givens' in life (and pain is one such 'given'). I am enjoying this book and have been thinking it may be valuable to others as well. So as I work through it, I construct the lessons of the book into a small workshop that could be used in our community training, or even online - both? Well, whatever direction it takes me, I am grateful for authors that put into words the feelings that make us human, and carve a way forward through it to healing and enlightenment.
For our heart to yield without revolt to the hard law of creation, is there not a psychological need to find some positive value that can transfigure this painful waste in the process that shapes us and eventually make it worth accepting?... Dark and repulsive though it is, suffering has been revealed to us as a supremely active principle for the humanization and the divinization of the universe"... 

It often takes a community to hold the pain of one of its own - not only does it lighten the burden of painful experiences that we face, but it also brings people together to seek significance together, not answers - but meaning.To honour the seasons that bring us to meaning, is to embrace the truth that we are part of a cycle of life way beyond our own desires and narrow self-interest - we are connected to a universe of shared experiences. Heinz Kohut, another psychologist, speaks of 'emphatic immersion' (such great term!) which implies a dedicated presence with someone else - being there for some one else on their terms, and with a caring curiosity. We can trust the pain we did not plan - we can trust it to bring people together. This helps.

Dedicated to Lynne Thackery, Friend & PR Manager at Dementia SA

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