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