Monday, May 14, 2007

Yin and Yang


“But why does there have to be pain? Why can’t things just be okay all the time?”

In the movie “Little Miss Sunshine”, Steve Carell’s character Frank has a discussion with Dwayne in which they talk about suffering. Frank talks about Marcel Proust, a French writer who believed that the years he suffered were the best years of his life because they made him who he was, and all the years that he was happy was a total waste because he didn’t learn a thing.

Happy people scare me. There’s a healthy level of happiness, but most habitually happy people creep me out. If I’m walking down the street and someone smiles at me, I automatically assume that they’re either crazy, or I’ve got some cream cheese on my face. And bubbly people at work are totally prone to going postal, I’m convinced of it, so I keep my distance. Don’t be surprised when that cheery secretary skips into work one day with a bunch of muffins and cackles as you die from eating crushed glass coated in chocolate frosting.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been relatively unhappy. There are always those rare occasions in which I have a moment of elation but those are outweighed severely by tumultuous thoughts caused by life’s inevitable timeline of tragedies. Thus, sulking has become as instinctual as sleep. I sneer at strangers. I indulge in the occasional program of reclusion. I grind my teeth when I sleep, and I allow angry thoughts to brew and storm in my head until I get migraines. Why do I do this? Well, the real question is, why the hell not?

Life is not fair. Life was devised in such a way so that joys are brief, and pains are excruciatingly prolonged. We live in a world of long goodbyes and quick hellos. We fight hundred year wars, and treaties become broken promises. We say a quick prayer to our gods then live lives of sin. School shootings become non-passing fads. We mourn the dead for lifetimes but forget birthdays. Love at first sight is fictional but long lost loves are too real. We’re forced to learn to let go of friends, family, significant others, whether it be to differences, deaths, or breakups. And the scary thing is that as we get older, the rate at which we’ll lose those we care about will only accelerate. The future scares me. In fact, it scares me so much that I’d rather be a recluse, I’d rather live with those tumultuous thoughts and I’d rather grind my teeth and be unhappy. Maybe that way, when shit hits the fan, I’ll have my protective shield of cynicism.

But sometimes life reminds me that I can be wrong. Yes I know, “impossible!” you say, but it’s true. I can be wrong sometimes. Sometimes wars end, walls break down, and pacts are born. Sometimes you get that coveted promotion at work. Sometimes your friends and family go out of their way to show you that they care. After a lifetime of drama, you find out that your parents can be supportive in the decisions you make. And after decades of heartbreak, someone holds your hand and you instantly become addicted to the way the base of their fingers seems to fit so warmly into yours. Sometimes a kiss isn’t just a kiss. You have those moments where you’ll be at that crowded, overbearingly loud bar, and suddenly the world around you melts away. Time stands still. Sometimes you’re reminded that it’s true what they say, you will fall in love again. And you learn to allow it. Stars collide in the blink of an eye, worlds are born and other worlds die, and every once in a while, your eyes are wide open to witness it. It makes sense that changes happen so quickly, after all, in that next blink of the eye, you might be gone.

What’s the point of life if you don’t live for those instances, those terribly brief moments of serenity that seem to give life meaning? I’ll let them carry me. So there she stood, eyes closed, and I put my cheek close to hers and breathed her in. I put my hand on her face, partly because I couldn’t believe she was real. And I kept thinking about her question. “Why must there be pain?” Well… I don’t have all the answers but all I could think of was this. I think if it weren’t for all those long goodbyes, those heartbreaks, those broken promises and fights, the tears, the lies, the aches, the pains, the trials and tribulations, those times when I felt like I couldn’t go on; if it weren’t for all of these things… then moments like this would never have been this perfect.