On Pain and Newtown

Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding …

… It is the bitter potion by which the physician within
you heals your sick self.

Therefore trust the physician, and drink his remedy
in silence and tranquillity:

For his hand, though heavy and hard, is guided by
the tender hand of the Unseen …

Khalil Gibran, The Prophet

I searched for a Bible verse to capture the concept of pain, and then thought better of it. I always want this site to be a place all feel welcome. And as the tragedy in nearby Newtown, Connecticut continues to wash over and through me – and everyone else – I went with Khalil Gibran’s timeless words on pain. The first line, I think of it always when I am in emotional pain because he is spot on.

I think we have all looked into the reflecting pool that is Newtown in search for answers as it crystallizes the notion that nothing is certain and nothing is sacred. It has yanked us from our bubbles of make-believe and forced us to accept that we can never conjure an accurate vision of how our lives will turn out no matter how much we think we can shape the vision. It reminds us to value the time we have here and the opportunities we’re afforded. That is what I am hearing so many shocked people say.

As I have shared here previously, Rome refined me by breaking something within me. That ‘something’ was my being self-absorbed. From my suffering, I learned to be more empathetic to people’s pain and suffering. From realizing how loved I am by my friends and family, I learned to love out loud. And I learned to shed my pride in order to investigate the smallest flicker of possibility of love so that I will never have regrets. Suddenly, I understood my time here is short, it is uncertain and it is best lived by keeping close  those who give me joy and make me laugh. Better yet, it fueled within me a great desire to be generous to others with my time, my thoughts and my energy.

In the jargon of sociologists about what forces society to implement rapid social change, Rome was my ‘tectonic shift’. Newtown is our country’s. In the coming days and weeks, I wonder how Newtown’s lessons will be present in the daily lives of the millions affected by its horrors. For me, beyond the utter sadness of what took place, it has helped me recommit myself to all the things I promised myself I’d do to live with meaning and with love. That is the only way I can figure to honor those lost.

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