Wednesday, 20 January 2010

In your face


So, yet again I blame myself for feeling tired, not wanting to get out of bed this morning. What a wimp. If I had the self-discipline to organise my life better, eat better, exercise more systematically, I wouldn't be so tired. Self-blame is tiring in itself, so doesn't help.


And then I think, good grief! The recent death that was close to me haunts me, in my face - how to accept it? And then there are the similarly unjust deaths and suffering of all the ungraspable thousands in Haiti. In all our faces too, via the media, though distanced by screens, machines, both distanced and brought close by the words and lenses of others. Just a bit tiring, no?

Cruel, and anyway impossible, to say the closer suffering is enough, we'd be better off not knowing about distant suffering. But what am I meant to do with this? Give money, of course, and demand that my government spends a reasonable proportion of taxation revenue on emergency aid and longer-term cooperation. (What's a reasonable amount? Well, we're so far short of even the minimal internationally agreed lowest-common-denominator target, there's perhaps no need to ponder that right now!) Then what? Doing that won't make me feel better, any more than a much-needed donation to the hospice will make me feel better about C's death. Why should I feel better? I've no right to feel better, privileged and healthy as I am, says the self-blaming voice. 

Life today, in the knowledge, sight and sound of pain and suffering everywhere, is no way softer, easier than life in the simple villages of yore, small worlds with slow travel and no media. Assuming they had enough to eat (a very big assumption), life today is surely more difficult than life in such a village. Life today demands the impossible, that we are moved by all of this and that we carry on, straight-faced, hard-working, as if unmoved.

But this is going nowhere! Be mindful, of the moment as well as the age, of the subtle as well as the gross, of the smile as well as the scream. Have compassion, for self as well as others. All this I know, and can only try to know more deeply. I veer ever closer to Buddhism because its twin tenets of mindfulness and compassion are the only things that have ever helped. (I was going to add beauty, art, but not, come to think of it, in themselves -there too, it's the being mindful).

---------

watching this video of Kate McGarrigle, who died yesterday. Hell of a week. So much joy listening to her singing, for more than 30 years.  Oh.

9 comments:

Zhoen said...

Allow yourself to grieve. No need to rationalize it away, sit and let it wash over, overwhelm for a time, then ebb. We honor the dead by listening for a while.

alembic said...

You really capture the dilemma of our age when you say this: "Life today demands the impossible, that we are moved by all of this and that we carry on, straight-faced, hard-working, as if unmoved." But that is for the mind, isn't it -- for the heart, like zhoen said, rationalizing will do little....

marja-leena said...

Oh, you have voiced so many of my own unexpressed thoughts and self-recriminations so well here, Jean! So sorry for the loss of your friend, that is always hard. Grieving for thousands is harder still... we each find our own way to deal with the pain... easing it with meditation, long walks, creative work, listening to music....

Pica said...

I was reading through your post and nodding, nodding, then I got to the bit about Kate McGarrigle dying.

Oh God. I didn't know.

Hugs to you, Jean, be gentle with yourself.

Jean said...

Pica, ouch! Sorry you didn't know about Kate McGarrigle. I only knew because I've been waking up to a news programme this week instead of my usual classical music station, because of Haiti.

Janet said...

My heart goes out to you. Periods like this are so emotionally draining. Go easy on yourself, Jean. Let the healing come in its own time. Glad you can turn to Buddhism.

I am Heinrich, hello! said...

Ach, this is so good to read! You lightly embrace what I am trying to sense but can not because I am so fatigued! Very many thanks.

Dale said...

Love. Wishing I had your shoulders in my hands.

Yes. Mindfulness and compassion. Nothing else budges it, really.

Lucy said...

(O)