Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Scheduling Your Suffering & Sadness

Yesterday I got sucked in... I heard about the bombing at the Boston Marathon and turned on the news and couldn't turn away for a full four hours. My friend Karyn was running the marathon and just last week we were talking about how excited and nervous she was, so to think she might have been in the area when the bomb went off was terrifying. She and her family are safe but I couldn't help think about all the people who were injured and the families and friends waiting to find out if they were ok.

Last night I had to take a shower at 7pm just to wash the ickiness of the worry and sadness off of me. Luckily today it is sunny and I haven't had the tv on yet and have limited my online exposure to the aftermaths. The people affected will live with the nightmare for weeks, months, probably their lifetimes, but for the rest of us we must get back to our lives. Giving blood, donations, checking in with loved ones are all good things to do but we can't get stuck in fear and sadness and let evil, tragedy, and negativity invade the rest of our lives.

Thinking about this reminded me of when my Nonne was dying. She was totally aware she had only a little time left to live and it was within months of my sister's wedding. She was sick the weekend of my sister's shower and when we thought of rescheduling or someone staying with her she said: always go to the happy event. Her philosophy was that we should never give up happiness to wallow in sadness. We took lots of pictures of the beautiful, fun, happy shower and she loved seeing them.

Later that same year I was taking a Landmark Education course and there is an exercise they do were you write down something you are suffering about and they guarantee by the time you complete the exercise your suffering will be gone. I won't give away the details but let's just say at the end of the night I was the only one left still suffering about something and the instructors had no idea what to do with me-- apparently no one had ever not stopped their suffering. What can I say, I'm gifted!

Anyway, on my drive home I am now suffering about how my suffering is so extraordinary that it can't be resolved. I climb into bed exhausted and of course as it almost always does my mind woke me up at 3 a.m. with the answer. Life isn't about not having sadness and suffering in it, it's about understanding why we're in pain and putting it in its proper place. The image came to me of boxes on a shelf that you can't ever get rid of but that you take out and "play" with when you want or need to think about something or someone then you put them back when you're tired of being sad.

The bottom line is if we thought about all the tragedy in the world we would never get out of bed. Yet, if we ignore the suffering and sadness that life has handed us we'll numb ourselves to the joys too. We need to feel things, we need to be sad, occasionally it is good to suffer a little. So schedule yourself some time for a good cry, a sad movie, a date with Ben & Jerry, or give in when the world is in mourning. And when you're done then it's time to put it where it belongs and get to the party. Go to the happy! Because that's what we're here for and that's what our Nonnes, and anyone who loves us, hell... humanity needs and wants for us.

UPDATE: Here's Karyn's post about her experience at marathon: http://t.co/fNcsdnSw4P

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