Friday, March 13, 2015

People Notice & Pain and Pleasure

I just got done reading a Facebook post about a young child who died of brain swelling, attributed to the side effect of being vaccinated. I almost hesitate in saying this detail, as it is fairly likely the controversy around the vaccination conversation could, for some, all too easily become the focus of one's attention, even though I am writing with something different in mind.

The person writing talks about the silence around the posting regarding what happened. Why aren't people reacting? Why aren't they saying anything? She tries an experiment. She posts.pictures of her own children, and suddenly there's everyone. 

A commenter says something similar about her experience in a similar, yet different, regard.

In a world like Facebook, it isn't always easy to know what is seen, and not seen. However, in my experience, a lot of what I say and post appears to be greeted by silence. Yet, when I post a nice looking picture of myself, the comments come flying.

Yesterday I posted this image.

I thought it a clever play after a bread making fiasco. I am not sure it got any response at all. I wonder if I did an experiment and posted a nice pic of me afterward what might have happened.

"Funny" thing? There is nothing inherently wrong or bad or negative about what I created, but how much would you want to bet there are those who saw it in very much the same way as they view my book title (Sometimes it Sucks to be Human)?

There are things in life that just don't always work out the way we want them to. There are things that sometimes just suck. There are times we just want to ignore or steamroll over those things that do not fit what we want our attention to be on, and our experience to be. 


What if the fact that this "thing" is showing up in our life it is meant to be there? What if the fact that someone is showing us something that is important, and means something to them, is showing up to give us something in our experience of life? What if it is a lesson or a sign, or something else that could actually be labelled "helpful," or "good," but we are too uncomfortable or too busy or too...to notice, or even want to?

The night is dark. It is black. It is labelled with many adjectives that come off sounding negative. There could be people who would try to deny the fact that the night even exists. They could even close their eyes, and sleep through it, and use that as validation that there is no such thing as night. That could certainly seem to be their reality, but others around them know that just isn't "the truth." For them, night is very much an experience and reality that they must interact with.

So which is the truth? That night exists, or that it doesn't? It would depend on who you asked. Although, in all likelihood, there would be a huge undercurrent that there was likely something wrong with the person who doesn't believe night exists, and mainly because it goes against what the prevailing beliefs currently are for most people.

The irony, of sorts, is that people would be making a case for the "negative" mostly out of an agreement of a reality. 

We seem to be selective about our reality, and what we choose to embrace, often times denying another person's reality in the process. Is our denial of a reality creative? Do we wind up creating something different because we believe what we do? Some would certainly have us believe we do,

I don't know about you, but I have given my everything to some things I wanted in my life - but they never became the reality of the person writing this. What that means in totality, I don't really know. But what I know is that the part of me that Is experiencing life is this moment never got to experience those things.

And I know that I am not the only one that this has happened to. Not by a long shot. So there are many others who will read this and will know exactly what I am talking about. The thing is, it may feel sucky to contemplate the feelings attached. It might be better to side swipe the feelings, rather than truly acknowledge, or feel them. But does it make them any less "real?"

Could I potentially have a different life in "denial?' I already did. And, in some ways, the one I live now that allows me to face, and acknowledge, my experience - whatever it may be - seems to work a lot better for me.

For some who observe me, they may think I am all over the place. And the fact is, there are times I likely am. Why do we think that is such a bad thing? Why can't I feel a certain way about my hair loss one moment, and then talk about baking bread the next? In some ways, I almost think the healthier option for me is the one that has me fully immersed in the moment, rather than the one that has me trying to escape it. Trying to escape something can be torturous. 

What about the torture of being in it, though? Oddly enough, perhaps, I am more tortured by the attempts at denial. It is a huge lesson I have learned these last few years.

So we notice things. We notice others. And we notice how others seem to act/react to things, and sometimes we play along, and our silence gives them permission to continue - which also allows us those moments, too. We have some "interesting" unwritten/unspoken agreements. Or we say something, like that woman I mentioned at the start of this post did, and like I do, and we point to the things that many don't feel comfortable with. 

At times when there are those willing to speak up, there will either be more silence, or there will be those who will go, "me, too!" The second grouping is often the minority, though, probably because they threaten the status quo agreement we seem to have with each other. I am sure there are others who also agree, but find their silence safer.

For the record, there is no judgment in my words, although it would be fairly easy to read some judgment into what I am saying. We all do whatever it is that we do, and we do it because at the time we truly feel like it is the thing to do. Given that statement, I could just as easily say I am judging people/their actions and that it is "ok" to do it because in the moment it is the thing that feels like the thing to do.

What I am doing is seeking to have a conversation, even if it is "just" with myself. I think about things like this all of the time. What makes one person "right" and another person "wrong?" I don't see things in an absolute way, like some people do. And when I think about things logically, I don't always come to a place that has clear cut lines of demarcation.

I tend to observe things a lot, and that is why this post started out as it did. It was an observation about a quality of human behavior that extends past my own experience dealing with cancer. 

I have often said that what I write about is about life and living because there is so much of what I experience that is translatable to the experience of others, even those who have not dealt with cancer. They have a similar reaction and experience to people and their reactions, but for a different cause/reason than I do.

We have a common thread that runs through us, but we often are so distracted by our own lives and opinions, and stuff we just don't recognize it, and if it is painful, we frequently do not want to. All too often, it is only when we come face-to-face with something that we can no longer avoid that a connection is truly made. Until then it is likely we are can be more focused on what we perceive our differences to be, acting in ways that help us keep a safe distance from those people and things and circumstances that make us uncomfortable.

I wonder if that is why there is conflict? Is it possible that conflict is an avoidance mechanism? Interesting thought. But not one I am going to venture into further at the moment...

People, it is said, are driven by pain and pleasure. It is the avoidance of pain and the pursuit of pleasure that can guide much of our life. To face the stuff of life that we have associated with pain is like choosing to walk willingly into the fire. For most that would be a, "oh. hell. no." They may not say that, but their other words and actions will speak volumes. 

Oddly, though, I have discovered that walking into the pain can have a pleasant side effect. On the other side can be such an incredible peace. It is a peace I never had while I struggled to be someone I wasn't. Maybe the way to pleasure, at times at least, is through pain (and I do not mean in a physical sense, although there are likely to be those who would make that argument) and to avoid pain is to also avoid pleasure. The experience of pain also seems to alter my experience around many facets of life - in a good way. 

Is it possible that pleasure can also become a source of our pain? One only need love someone with their whole heart to answer that question, I suspect. And yet, we walk around as if pain and pleasure had a straight line between them, as we swing back and forth. It strikes me that it might be more of a sphere that we interact with. You can only travel so far north before you start to head south. It is probable that the two things have a much closer relationship than most of us realize - especially when we are focused on only one of them.

Odds are good, too, that when we are doing anything but just living in the moment, we are focused on something that is not even us. We are focused on what something, somewhere, determined was important, and not focused on what is right in front of us. The thing is, I am not sure it is always that easy to tell which version of ourselves we are being, and we have to want to distinguish the two to even begin to figure out which one is which.

I began this post a few hours ago, and then left it to sit. As much as I would like to tie it up neatly in a bow, I am not sure how. I know that that is what we are trained to want, and look out for. But, even if I intended it, I am not sure l would succeed. Conversations like this are rarely neat and tidy, and any that might even vaguely resemble that are probably the messiest of them all.

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