Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Make Use of Suffering

It's been a while since I've written here: I headed back to Illinois for a long weekend and a good friend's wedding. When I'm away from writing and painting, when my schedule gets a little packed or busy or changed up, I look forward to re-grounding in creative pursuits. 

They're a kind of yoga or mediation, really; something it helps to keep in my life because they help me process, express, and stay grounded. I think I've learned that having a creative endeavor of some kind in life (anything you create- be it art, or a marriage, or a relationship, or a family, or even just some kind of project); or maybe just looking at whatever you're doing as a creative act, helps us grow.

That's a lot of what this year has been about for me: growing. And I learned something going home this weekend that really hasn't hit me yet since coming out to Colorado seven months ago- growing sometimes sucks. When you grow, you change. Into something else. Something more you, hopefully, but it happens, and there's something right about and hard about it at the same time.
Growing takes a lot out of you. A lot of times, it hurts. If you grow bigger or differently than the place you grew out of, sometimes something feels 'off' when you go back, like a plant whose roots just don't fit in the same container anymore. 

Suddenly your reach is bigger, your understanding deeper (or just different), your ultimate direction no longer like what you left. Growth isolates, in some ways: pulls you away from what is familiar into a space of the unknown (which also hurts). It gets you in touch with the deep crevices of what you're personally lacking and what you need going forward. And it also gets you in touch with the depths of your personal brilliance and strength.

Sometimes growth reveals both, usually the former then the latter. You falter and mess up, stumble a little, and then in that process you figure out what you're capable of. Usually you figure out that you can do it, that you can change and evolve and thrive- and sometimes that's the hardest discovery, because it means you can't settle for settling anymore. Even though it's comfortable.
And I'm learning there are two kinds of pain: the pain that comes if you never try growing, which is a sort of feeling of steady complacency, a life of 'the same-old same-old,' a sensation that numbs many people into believing life isn't particularly worth much, maybe; a pain that is so easy and so sneaky and so comfortable.

And then there is the pain of growth, the one I just described: the one where you're tested, and you may fail, and it may push you, but something comes of it. You change and you can't change back, can't do the same things you once did anymore, can't wait for life to happen to you anymore. 

And it's like life is asking us all the time: pick which kind, which method, of suffering.

I always remember these words I shared here once probably years ago: "You desire to know the art of living, my friend? It is contained in one phrase: make use of suffering." 
I'm also learning I'm not alone- we all face challenges that other people know nothing about, that come from the way we see, the things we've been through, and the ideas we have for what we want or expect. You're lucky if you have a handful of people there for you who will talk to you and with you about them, and who won't judge you and will love you just the same when you're trying to find your way. 

I'm trying to become a person in this life who does that for others too, because in the end what matters is not really what you tell people or explain to people or offer people in words, even, but how you make them feel. I've been lucky to have some people in my life who have made me feel like I am loved, worthy, capable- who have helped push me and change me into someone better.

We'll always encounter the other types, too, who don't particularly feed us anything that makes us believe we are greater; who reinforce the complacency part of us knows we really need to escape. I think part of maturity must be the realization that these relationships, even if they seem immediately comfortable or attractive, may not really be good for us if growth- or even just real, lasting happiness- is what we are looking for.

And I'm learning that to become someone who helps others and is good for others, I have to keep being the person who is made for more to myself.

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