Thursday, February 22, 2007


I have regrets. I know they're real because they surprise me with their bite and tenacity. They're regrets (or sins) of acts both committed and ommitted. I don't think they're particularly harder for me to bear than regrets (or sins) borne by others but--and I don't like acknowledging this--I'm not particularly brave when faced with pain of any kind, physical, emotional, or spiritual. When I stub my toe, I feel it more than I probably should, out of sheer cowardice.

The regret that has grown largest for me over recent years is not having had children. It's crept up on me. Gnaws at me like unrequited love. And trying to accept that I probably will not have children in the future is like learning how to live with a terminal disease. But, of course, it's also a disease I've chosen, because learning to live with the cure would be worse; i.e., organizing my working life around economic security rather than.... No, what I was about to write is not honest, never mind. I don't trust protestations that pit "art" against "commerce" or "practical" life.... If one has the courage and passion of their convictions, they don't really collide.

This is a topic for further reflection elsewhere.

On a tangential note: Here's a tip for readers who contribute comments to this blog: rather than 'agreeing' or 'disagreeing' with ideas, observations, or confessions I might make, please try engaging with the substance of the ideas, comments, or confessions--testing them out, diverging from them with your own contrasting notions, debating them--anything but simply throwing up a conversation-stopping protestation of personal feeling. That's why I got so pissed off at Kenichi a while back, when he huffily discounted--without inquiring into my meaning, as other readers were polite or curious enough to do--my statement that "acting is transgression," (an inherently hypothetical statement that he seemed to think was a dicate I was making to the world because I used "is," rather than "sometimes, in my experience, could possibly be.")

Try to understand--rather than disprove--the ideas or feelings I share (unless they're truly odious, in which case, have at me.) Share your own thoughts. But spare your stances, which more often than not miss the point. You'll be glad you did, when the shoe's on the other foot.


queen of pain said...

Some questions for you:

Is it possible to actually feel less pain when you stub your toe? If you tell yourself to feel less pain, will you in fact feel less pain? Would feeling less make you more courageous? How much pain SHOULD you feel?

I am curious because it sounds like you are equating numbness towards pain (and all feeling) with bravery.

Maybe numbness isn't the right word. Immunity? Imperviousness? I guess someone who felt no pain would be perceived as brave, since they would have no fear of pain... but what human being doesn't feel pain? Can you really learn to feel less, or is it just that some people learn to mask it better or ignore their feelings?

jason said...

I wonder if the term you're looking for is not "feel it more" but rather "recoil from it more". Yeah, if you stub your toe hard, it's going to hurt really fucking bad (this from a man who stubbed his toe so hard once that it broke.) And yet you still have to get up and walk at some point. And when is that point? To extend the metaphor, I think it depends on how badly you want to get where it is you intend to walk.

David said...

Now, THESE are the kind of comments I love!

Cindy said...

I don't trust protestations that pit "art" against "commerce" or "practical" life.... If one has the courage and passion of their convictions, they don't really collide.

I don't trust them, either, in the same way that I violently mistrust all "either or" thinking. That said, I certainly have learned beyond question that regardless of one's courage or passion, art and economic/practical life do collide. What I can't (won't?) believe, however, is that collision means the two are mutually exclusive. I think it likely will mean that in order to fully live out both aspects of one's life in complete honesty and integrity with oneself and others, one is going to end up having to do a lot of intense soul-searching and coming to terms with what one finds in the deep inner places.

Not to say that living out either aspect of life independently of the other rules out that deep authenticity, I suppose. There will always be a few brave souls willing to risk the pain in order to go above and beyond what is absolutely necessary. That takes real courage.

Which was, I believe, your original point. Full circle.

Signore Direttore said...

To render ourselves insensible to pain we must forfeit also the possibilities of happiness.

Sir John Lubbock