Rainy Day Writing

Writing, Reading, Inspirations and Aspirations

Living With A Conscience: Joy, Pain and the Pursuit of Happiness


Photo: Ilona Elliott

I have done all that I could, to see the evil and the good, without hiding, you must help me if you can. Doctor, my eyes, tell me what is wrong, was I unwise to leave them open for so long?...Browne, Jackson.”Doctor My Eyes”. Asylum Records.1972

Sometimes the pain of the world feels like a weight on your chest. It’s been a heavy load lately, difficult to bear.

Not for myself. I’m okay. I’m doing really well. I have all that I need and more.

If I were  to focus on my life exclusively, and the personal little bubble of space I happen to inhabit, I would be perfectly content. But my little bubble is not an existential vacuum where all that matters is my personal well being and my own very particular life experience, because I am a citizen of the world. As such, the pain of the world is my pain.

This world that I love so much. The seat of so much beauty. The source of so much inspiration. The depository of so much pain. This is my home.

Sometimes, the pain and the beauty of life make me feel completely schizophrenic.

I don’t want to be depressed, sad, angry. I want to experience joy and gratitude. And I do. But then there’s the pain, always niggling away at the back of my mind.

The pain of bearing witness to the crises of refugee families fleeing certain death and seeking peace but finding none; to the school children being murdered, terrorized, and then publicly chided and threatened for expressing their fear and rage at the adults who have abandoned civic responsibility in the name of personal freedom; to the genocide of  unwanted minorities at the hands of those who yield power without compassion and are blind to the complicity of their own ambiguity; to the destructive forces of the constructs of man’s ego upon the Earth. And of course there’s more.

I want to be positive Peggy and not Debbie Downer. But I can’t ignore that both personalities exist within the borders of my heart and mind.

Were it not so than I would surely be dead.

I don’t relish the pain. Nor do I enjoy it. But I choose not to ignore it. My conscience will not allow for that. I may have a right to the pursuit of happiness, but I have a duty to my conscience. So I pay attention.

And I take the joy where I can find it these days. I found it this week in conversation with an old friend.  I seek it out and soak it in from the sunshine that surprises a Winter’s day, from the changing light of the sky at dusk, or the steadiness of the oceans rhythms against the shore, or the wag of the dogs tail as he stands at the door waiting for the leash.

Cosmo at the Beach

But I take the pain too. It would be less of a life if I didn’t.

So I persevere in this schizoid state of being, such as it is.

Great joy. Great pain.

This is life.


©2018 by Ilona Elliott. All Rights Reserved.

Me and Cosmo

The Author (on the right)









  1. Ilona, I think this is the question that philosophers have wrangled with for centuries – how to exist in a world with so many contradictions.
    You perfectly pointed out the problem that many of us have – when our immediate circumstances point to happiness, yet our knowledge that not everyone is in this state is unsettling and painful.
    This week, I’ve been angry all week and it was nothing within the boundaries of my life. It seems inexplicable. So I must find a way out of this, lest I miss the beauty in front of me.

    Liked by 2 people

    • It’s hard Michelle. I can’t choose to ignore the pain and disengage from the conversations, such as they are, surrounding the issues. But I have to step back and breath and make space for the positive things also. Otherwise, it is overwhelming.
      Maybe someday I’ll reach some point of Zen like acceptance of all things, but I doubt it. My mind is too absorbent of everything around me for that. So I do try to drink in the moments of peace the world gives when they come along–being observant of the blessings I guess. I hope you find your own moments Michelle. Thanks for engaging!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. such a complex issue- I just can not bear the headlines of suffering, crime and poverty-and more. I worry about the planet-as you say, our home. We do what we can-whatever is in our power to do. You have a compassionate heart and that is beautiful and sorrowful, too. love Michele

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Michele. Some of the moments of joy are courtesy of your blog. The gratitude for the small moments you consistently share is like beauty for ashes some days. xox

      Liked by 1 person

      • Well . . .I am crying- this touches me deeply. Thank you so much- I wish you a happy March. love Michele

        Liked by 1 person

      • I’m sorry to make you cry. I am trying to get back to my snarkey writing self but to no avail. Have to be authentic, so it is what is is I guess. Love to you and yours Michele.

        Liked by 1 person

      • oh-you can move me to tears anytime. I think that beautiful compassionate heart of yours is burdened with all of the loss and unrest. I pray something wonderful happens to encourage you-I love your expressions of authenticity. xoxoxoMichele

        Liked by 1 person

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