Saturday, May 23, 2009

On the pleasures of pain

How can you tell if you're a grownup? When you look back on your life more than looking ahead.

I was rereading some of the recent stuff I wrote and the mind is suddenly submerged in a lot of old sensations... Funny how I branded 'recent' as 'old'. A month easily feels like a decade when so much life is lived in the granules. Time dilates in the microbial universe of emotions and remembered emotions; it passes so slow these usually transient feelings are as though time-coded onto their assigned junctures - you cannot recall them without recalling the events they permanently affix to. Sense memory.1

There are two ways of responding to days when you don't know how to go on with so much water under the bridge. One is forbidden and the other is unspoken. The forbidden way introduces excessive fear that quickly leads you into despair. Too bad it is also the natural way because it is the easiest state to attain. Like rowing downstream. The unspoken way is unnatural but is unfortunately necessary to achieve sanity. It is rarely spoken of if ever. Hugely because not many people know what it is. Like seeing a caterpillar for the first time and being told its upshot is a butterfly. We just can't see it.

The only path to seeing what we need to stay sane is pain. There's no other way. Old age does not grant a person wisdom, nor does an infinite amount of learning at young age. Old people who are also wise only happen on old age by chance; the wisdom they have gained through painful experiences unwanted and unsought after their entire life. No one welcomes pain. Not even those who have had a pain-laden life and know deep down it's good for them. So a student of life asks, how is it any good to me?

The only way - in fact the only time - pain is good is when it is used as an antidote to itself.

The negation of pain is more pain. Don't think for a second that a masochist has spoken. If it were up to me I wouldn't have come up with such an oxymoronic idea. Life has amply terrorized me with its solemnity I know full well the denouement of a lying mountebank. All my life I have been captivated by a sort of lasting and honest pleasure I believed the world at large gives no credence to. Through providence even with faults of my own, I learned that the world at large is in fact looking for the same thing I do, and they, too, have been denied it. Instead of pleasure, they, too, were handed pain beyond belief.

But something happened after the pain: a silent, well-concealed pleasure like nothing else in the world. Silent because it is too modest to speak when it can. Concealed because it has no language of its own save the process itself; you cannot explain it to another even if you want to. But the closest I have ever come to a true, lasting pleasure was found in the scrapes of the deepest pains I have known.

It is useless to advise my fellow students to welcome pain hereafter if they, too, want a piece of this sublimity. I certainly did not when it happened to me. The language of the deepest secrets of life is very difficult in the first place, if not impossible. All I can effect is the recount. Whether or not it could happen to you too is a secret that you shall share in when you do!



1An aside: The reason why sense memory is false as method acting is perhaps because it is exclusive to life. The point of a play is not to mimic real life but to suggest it. Mimicry is the lowest form of theatre.

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