I cried at my desk today.
Between the pages of my self-assigned digitizing project, and the endless, soft drone of the scanner, I cried–from anger, frustration, impotence, pain. Tears legit fell and crinkled some of the documents. Like in one of those movies, where a character inevitably gets bad news on a phone call, and slides down the wall Because Their Legs Are Too Weak To Hold Them Up.
Anyways, I cried.
I don’t tell you this so you feel sorry for me, really, truly. The fact is, we are all going to cry in life. And we need to stop pretending that, if we can just figure out a new way to process, if we get to the heart of our fears, if we can just read this book or implement that life-strategy, that we won’t have to cry anymore.
I need to stop avoiding pain. We need to stop avoiding pain.
“Life is pain, highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something.” – William Goldman
During my highly functional crying session (I was still working through the documents), I thought back on years when I seemed more steady and rooted than on days like this. Not long ago, I would have looked back on those years with a kind of wistfulness, a kind of nostalgia for a time when I didn’t feel things quite so deeply.
But I don’t remember much else about those years, either.
I think it’s no mistake that the word “avoid,” by just adding a space, turns into “a void.” In my experience, actively avoiding pain leads to a void. Living by fear of negative emotions, trying to dodge them, is like trying to kayak without putting your oar into the water. You get no where–or, at least, no where that you want to be.
And so I’ve realized. I’ve decided that I would rather have really, really bad days than live a long, endless line of so-so days with little to define each from the last. I would rather take the risk of experiencing deep sadness than curb it by force, only to never know what it is to experience a deep well of joy. I would rather feel the bite of anger at what I perceive to be injustice, than miss out on the blinding glee of truly belonging somewhere, anywhere. I would rather feel than not.
One’s capacity for emotion is not specific or particular, I’m afraid. It does not take sides. It demands a kind of sacrifice: You cannot have the light without the shadow, one without the other. Our ability to experience those emotions we call “good” are perfectly, inescapably mirrored by our capacity for those emotions we call “bad.”
I don’t want to miss out. I choose them all. And I’ve decided that it’s OK to cry at your desk. It means I am alive.