But of course, there are many things that bring me down. Down is a real place I do not like to be, where I brood and do not speak because I am not fluent in the heavy sounds that fall flat, the sharp flicks of the tongue that punctuate them. I am accustomed to the world of Up, where every word flies out of the mouth and ricochets off the walls.
Needless to say this makes dealing with any downward motion difficult. I struggle against it and the more I wriggle the deeper I sink, it's quicksand. When I believe myself sunk I begin to berate myself for not fighting harder and of course I sink deeper and quicker still. Realising I have sunk more I try my best to conjure up all the lightest feelings and brightest thoughts to lift me out of the Down but to no avail. I am not used to carrying this load, I have been conditioned to cast off weight not take it on.
How do you reconcile a creature of flight with a beast of burden?
I think back to one of the first secondhand words that really stuck with me which were...
Those things that hurt instruct.
To use the words of all university tutors and lecturers ever - let's unpack this, shall we?
What I take this to mean is that there is meaning in suffering. Not just that you can find meaning in pain but that it fundamentally teaches you (about what exactly is another question).
This perhaps was my first A-HA! moment. There is something I can learn here. There is a point to this, a method to the madness. The point is sharp but exists, the method obscure but certain. What you learn (or don't) is basically up to you, which is both helpful and unhelpful. What do you do with this information? You could seek the lesson yourself and pick the pieces from whatever catches. This was my method for many years, until fairly recently.
If we look at the words again, Those things meaning there is a multitude of unnamed possibilities that hurt but also instruct. It's not immediately clear what is being hurt; you? your pride? your future? your sense of self? Is this a general hurt that permeates your day to day life like body odour or the smell of burnt toast? Or is it the quick clean hurt of a paper cut?
How do you go from being hurt to being instructed to getting back to the light? is what I wanted to know. I knew from the first reading of the above quote until now that I had to pay attention to suffering, that it was necessary and important but did not realise that there was another step beyond that. I thought if I could just pay enough attention to this darker place I could more quickly get back to the light. Half-right.
I needed to change the way I thought about Those Things themselves. I had changed the way I thought about Hurt itself but not about the things that caused it. It was this root, along with the idea that pain was fundamentally didactic, that I needed to tie back to something that meant anything to me. I needed to tie the darkness to the light and only wait until the shadows disappeared.
Every time you feel the gravity of anxiety, self-doubt, wounded pride or any of Those Things That Hurt you find a reason why or how this is bigger than you, what you're going to do about it or think about it and that, for me at least, is usually enough to lead you back up.
It may not make sense to anyone but me because I am writing in my own kind of double-speak but the beauty of writing is that you are in control of what is and isn't on the page. And that is all. And I'm ending it here and I hope you find the light.