See, the problem is that I am a person that feels deeply. There are many terms for the kind of person I am, depending on the field. You know, burden bearer, empath, things like that.
I am a scientist. Okay, was a scientist. But my mind still thinks like one. So, as some of you know, I am not given to esoteric, mumbo- jumbo explanations. If anything, I am an skeptic of sorts. But the fact is that I – indeed, feel deeply, even beyond what one would consider normal.
I am affected by the world. I am affected by people’s suffering. I connect with people I’ve never met. I feel for them.
I gave up watching the news when I was in my mid teens. Couldn’t take it any longer. This, however, didn’t make much of a difference. I still knew. Just like I still know.
But I it all started well before that. As a little girl, I would get up in the middle of the night to open the door of the cages where my mother kept her birds. Couldn’t stand the thought of keeping beautiful creatures that were meant to fly in a cage. That felt to me like the ultimate horrible thing. After a while, my mother gave up on buying more birds. She never said a word to me but I am sure she knew if was me behind the strange disappearances.
I refused to kill and dissect a frog in 6th grade. I made such a big rucus that that year was the last year the biology teacher attempted to do dissections at school. I did bring a frog to school as they asked me. But not only I got up, took the frog in my hands and I said that I refused to kill a creature but exhorted my classmates to the same! You can imagine the scene. I gave quite the speech. Everybody followed suit and there was no killing of frogs that day.
Then there was Med school and Physiology lab. They wanted me to bring a stray dog, put it under anesthesia and open it up while still alive. Yeah, that didn’t go well either. Again, another rucus. Again, I accomplished to get the Physiology department to take the killing of a dog out of the syllabus. Sadly, I didn’t manage to say the life of one dog. I did get my professors to use only one dog for the whole class instead of one dog for every lab team, though. Needless to say, I refused to partake of that lab and cry the whole time it was happening.
Finding a project for my PhD was difficult. I had a few requirements but the one that was absolutely not up for discussion was no animal experimentation. It took me a while and I finally found the one for me.
There’s much suffering and pain in this world. I can feel it. It is more than I can bear, sometimes.
As it happens so many times, today* while on FB, a picture appeared on my feed. A picture from someone I have never met in person but whom I am convinced it is my long, lost twin from a parallel universe.
I mentioned to her I was in the middle of writing this post and she referred me to this article, which brought me to some words that touched me deeply years ago when I first read the book:
I’m tired boss. Mostly I’m tired of people being ugly to each other. I’m tired of all the pain I hear and feel in the world everyday. There’s too much of it. It’s like pieces of glass in my head all the time.
John Coffey (like the drink, only not spelled the same) from Stephen King’s The Green Mile
It all makes sense. Everything in SSG’s universe is connected. I – of course, don’t have that kind of healing powers but I do hear and feel the pain. It drains me. Years ago, even to the point where I tried to take my own life because I couldn’t deal with it any longer.
These past three weeks have been particularly difficult to me. As it is also usual in my life, an event left me particularly vulnerable to pain. It is hard enough to stay happy on days when personal things are well. But when I am down right sad due to personal happenings, the pain of the world feels particularly vicious to me.
As I mentioned to Cate: “Turkey, Egypt, Syria, Colombia… I’m having such a hard time.” Too much pain. I am overwhelmed by it.
Sometimes, I am not capable of maintaining a balanced perspective. Sometimes, such pain brings the worst out in me. Quoting myself again from that FB conversation:
[During my years in med school] I cried myself to sleep every single night. It was also a time where I’ve experimented the worst feelings. It brought out the best in me but also the worst. I felt hate for the first time. I also felt murderous at times. I couldn’t understand how human beings could commit such atrocities.
I like feeling those awful feelings even less than I like being depressed.
Like I said, this year has been interesting. It has brought me great happiness but it has also brought me great pain. This year has had me questioning my sanity and my worth as a human being. It is hard for me when other human beings hurt. It is excruciatingly hard when some of that pain may be caused by me. Even if it is unintended, and only perceived as such by me. Pain is pain, no matter the cause, no matter the circumstances. Whether blame is assigned or not.
Paradoxically enough, from that pain, hope was born. A new life. A new direction. Two lives saved.
But I don’t understand life, the universe and everything. Why does it seem like for everything worth fighting for there should be sacrifices to be made and a great deal of pain involved? Or even worse, meaningless pain that is not conducive to anything worthy?
And still, as the earth turns, innocents die terrible deaths -or are scarred for life, by the hundreds of thousands all over the world.
So yeah, I know and I feel, but I am utterly unable to do anything about it.
What’s the point of that?
* This post is scheduled for a later date so it won’t be the actual “today”
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