Monday, February 09, 2004

Pain is a potent force. Makes you think- and wet grey days, windy pink-skied nights and a restless body do not afford much respite- just how many things do we not do because we’re afraid it will hurt? The fearless person is s/he who is not afraid of pain; fear itself is phir bhi something one can deal with. But pain! Maximus from Gladiator was a fearless man because the notion of being stabbed with a poisoned dagger was not particularly worrisome to him. Spies are fearless because even if they get caught, torture is piffle when compared to the obeisance they pay the state. The men and women we call ‘strong’ is because of their fortitude in face of personal troubles and trauma, and we admire their courage and will to survive- and the fact that they took risks that we’re scared to. And yet, pain is such a human thing. We write songs about it, we invent new ways of causing it, we make fun of it and we all feel it. Every woman who has ever given birth will know another woman’s suffering in labour. And yet, the woman who doesn’t scream is the strong one.
Why do we make it so hard for ourselves to be emotional? If you’re hurt, cry. If you’re happy, laugh. If the rain makes you want to sing and splash in puddles, do it. If it makes you morose, who says you have to force a big fake smile? It’s childlike to be too happy, it’s weak to cry, it’s sissiness to treat a bruise gingerly. I think people are uncomfortable exposing their real selves to the world, because we’re all afraid that behind selves we project there lives a person nobody will like too much. A person nobody will be interested in too much, someone nobody will want to love. That behind the chatty/ well-dressed/ English speaking /hi-fi novel reading/guitar playing/head covering/ politically correct person there is someone who isn’t that cool or interesting or funny- but you’ll never know unless you let someone see. And that’s where the pain comes right back in, because how scary a prospect! What if nobody likes the real me after all? What’ll I do then? Be alone? I can’t be alone, that would be….lonely. And being lonesome would be painful. And finding out that you’re exactly that horrible would hurt too. The equal chance of being loved for you is nice, but the pain bit is much scarier. So up pops the ego and the pride to cover up the insecurity and there you have it. Be a good sport (don’t make trouble), be strong (don’t freak me out), be a lady (so I feel like a man). Why is doing what you want such a problem? Aloofness is safety because risk could land you in trouble. Pain must be avoided at all costs. And at the same time, we’re all more dependent on the other than we would like to acknowledge. ‘There is no certainty unless you burn, and for this you must sit in the fire’. Dare we allow ourselves to live with the terrible uncertainty we face if we flee the flames? Dare we let this time slip by, only to wake up in ten years and want to run away from everything? Dare we sheathe ourselves in layers of the world and other people’s images of us so much that we forget who we really are- not the person our parents see us as, not the person our peers see, not the person we project but the person who looks back at you in the mirror first thing in the morning. The person who emerges in the dark, the person who comes out when instinct and spontaneity does, the person who is in your face when you’re asleep.

The person who comes out when no-one is watching- dare we let her/him stay?

Mina at 9:01 PM