Thoughts provoked by Wisdom Pigeon, who quotes Aeschylus:
He who learns must suffer. And even in our sleep, pain that cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart, and in our own despite, against our will, comes wisdom to us by the awful grace of God.
So I asked, can one learn through Joy? And Wisdom Pigeon comments on learning through pain: joy is the reward after.
Liz asked if I would like some toast, so I put it under the grill myself because of her physical difficulties. I burnt it, because I was distracted, then I burnt the second lot; then she pressed me to do a third, and I demurred. I really did not want to. I would make do with the burnt lot. She pressed me, and eventually I accepted, and did not burn these.
At the Children’s centre Lucy the manager was listening to my moaning, and she said she would make me a cup of tea. I refused, I should make my own cup of tea: and she was surprised by my vehemence, and insisted, and made me tea.
These two small acts of kindness last March, when I was finding life difficult, did not produce so much an immediate sense of joy as a niggling doubt, a strangeness- the world is not as bad as I then saw it. This was part of my movement towards my greatest learning of last year, moving from negative to positive, glass empty to glass full. So I think one can learn through joy, through glimpses of beauty.
As Wisdom Pigeon says, though the lesson is painful, having learned it is joyous. Much of my pain comes from demanding that the world be other than it is, and there is relief in the moment when I stop.
I commented on the blog of a woman afflicted by suicide, and she valued it, saying, “That should be in the books.” So I offer to you what I said to her:
The suicide was not the most important thing in your father-in-law’s life. It is not the one thing through which you should see him.
I am tempted to write further about suicide, but that is my sole pretence to originality, so I will stop.
British politicians say we are having a hard time at the moment, and appeal to the votes of the “Squeezed Middle” through our resentment, avarice, and fear. Hafiz saw how we are in Abundance, though so many do not see it. Daniel Ladinsky, again:
why let your winsome body act
As if it is living against a tyrant’s knife?
Why pretend your expansive existence,
Your Imperial Nature
Have all been squeezed
into a tiny red hot skillet
That is being kicked by a camel’s hoof
Over the dry sand?
For your friend Hafiz
So clearly sees we are all immersed
In the Soft Brilliance.