Photo by Haley Kean
Most of us don’t know what to do with our own pain and rarely do me know how to support others in their pain and grief. Pain is not to be ignored. It is not to be consoled with platitudes that somehow all will pass.
Pain is pain. It only asks that you sit with it.
There is a lot of pain out there in this nanosecond of earth’s history. Pandemics, starvations, genocides, climate change, conflicts, deaths, fear, inequality, oppression, and huge losses of income surround us. Uncertainty hangs in the air.
My inbox and social media messages are full of it. My mind wants to fix it and I know I cannot. The coffers of my limited income or my non-profit charity cannot solve the life-threatening problems facing even the people I know, not to mention those that I will never know.
I try. Often, I fail. I create art in the hopes that it will be purchased and I will have money to feed the dire needs of those in my tiny sphere. I listen to grief daily and balance it with laughter and cheer. I say too much or I say the wrong thing. I have to remind myself daily that my task is not to erase the pain of another but to sit with the pain with them.
Sitting with our personal pain or that of another is radical. It doesn’t allow us hackneyed sayings or the banality of sentimental Hallmark cards. It doesn’t give a damn about inspirational posters or Facebook posts.
Yes. I will continue to do whatever I can to feed, shelter, and assist those that cross my path. Yes. I will continue to work at partnering with others who recognize the pain and do not ignore it. And yes, I will continue to create whatever I can to balance the pain with art in all of its forms.
Art remains a powerful tool to let us gaze at someone else’s mind and discover the places where we are the same and the even richer places where we are different.
Sit with pain. Create. Savor what others create. It allows pain to experience the comfort of a mate. We all need mates, even if we never know their names.