Monday, March 13, 2006

You Know It Just Ain't Easy

Two moments have been nagging at me today.

What they have in common is that they each irritated me, not slightly, but with that kind of irritation that comes on in a rush, as if suddenly ones soul broke out into a rash. As I think about these moments, they each occupy opposite ends of the same spectrum.

The first is the James Blunt video of the hit song "You're Beautiful". If you do not know it, click here and see it. Bottom line: He sees a beautiful woman on a subway with another man, and knows he will never have her. So, he leaps into the cold ocean on a snowy day from on high, presumably to kill himself.

The second is a comment I read recently on a bulletin board complaining that some people who said they were Christians weren't happy, and didn't they know that believing in God and Jesus should just make us happy all the time? Period.

What gets my feathers in a ruffle here is some notion that a life lived well, or purely or sincerely or passionately has to be a life lived on some pristine and shallow edge.

Either we have to commit some beautiful artsy schmartzy act of orchestrated suicide as some sort of odd act of love, or we have to act like our lives were scripts from "Leave it to Beaver".

I want to say to James Blunt and to the anonymous poster - "Want to see some real suffering? Some suffering you cannot just deny?" I'd let them talk to Immaculee Ilibagiza, from Rwanda, who hid in a 3 foot by 4 foot bathroom with seven other women for 91 days while millions of people,including her whole family, were slaughtered outside. 91 days. 3 feet by 4 feet. 8 women. She weighed 65 pounds when she came out. Her book, Left To Tell describes her torment, and her eventual seeking out of the killers to forgive them. She has experienced a world I cannot even imagine. And she didn't jump into the ocean or try pretend that it wasn't horrible. I believe she may be a saint. The proceeds of her book are to help people traumatized by that war.

But what of us, the Un Saints? Life, even everyday non-heroic life, is messy stuff. When you live honestly and openly in the world you get your hands dirty, you get disappointed, you cry. Things are not always clear, or just or sensible. Sometimes we just live life in a fog with a kind of emotional Braille, feeling our way along the walls of our own limitations.

I get so upset with people who try to iron life out, homogenize it, build it into some frosted romantic tableau or rarefy it into something symbolic.

I want people around me who know how to feel like hell sometimes and live through it. People who get it that sometimes being sad is the only appropriate thing to feel. People who can eventually laugh and move on. People who plunge their hands deeply into the interstitial places, the crevices and folds of life, and mold it into something good and decent and serviceable. People who pay the everyday price of life by feeling each moment of it. By telling their honest stories. I want to be with people who find God by feeling their way to Him every day over and over. I want to be with people whose souls are like messy, well-lived in houses.

I want to be with people who do not live in an imaginary world. There is just too much at stake in this one.


Blogger Rainbow dreams said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

4:47 AM  
Blogger Miss Eagle said...

You have got to me once again Mata. I am sitting here in tears. I share your sentiments. I particularly liked your sentence - "Sometimes we just live life in a fog with a kind of emotional Braille, feeling our way along the walls of our own limitations." Feeling my way along the walls of my own limitations seems to be the place I inhabit these days.

5:08 AM  
Blogger Rainbow dreams said...

What a great description of real life - am with you completely - I love being with real people in real situations. Something to do with vulnerability and honesty has drawn me to work with people who have been homeless, on the brink of suicide, those who have gone (not quite literally)to hell and back. However, so often it seems that those who suffer the most are those who try not to feel, because they don't think it's right to feel or express it for whatever reason.

Just an observation from the people I often work alongside now.

Feelings , real feelings, are only just being allowed to be talked about in schools (here at least) - for so long we lived the best part of our growing up years not being free to express ourselves maybe it's no surprise so many find it so hard ...

12:17 PM  
Blogger Mata H said...

Well, rainbow, I also think that some people just feel too deeply to express it - the veteran with PTSD for example. But at least those folks are engaged with something real.

eagle -- I hear you, These days I know that place pretty well myself.

11:25 PM  
Blogger Rainbow dreams said...

True, very true Mata

7:34 AM  
Anonymous Pat Z. said...

Mata, The reality of love is that it is hard work, much of the time. Our family is in a state of exhaustion caring for our son-in-law who is an alcoholic. Our daughter moved home to us with the grandchildren, as she could not live with him drinking all the time. She still loves him though, because we don't love people because they are perfect. She fought to get him back into rehab yet again. I have sat and held him while he sobbed about losing his freedom to the bottle. This is real love, not romantic nonesense as in popular songs and fiction.

8:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just now ordered Immaculee Ilibagza's book, Left To Tell. I have great mixed emotions about this book. I know that I want to read it and yet I know that the subject matter surrounding her ordeal will be extremely difficult to take in. It will be the same as studying the details of Christ's crucifixtion.


2:11 PM  

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