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June 1st, 2006


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03:55 pm - Riddle me this, you all.
I know this world is pretty messed up. I see evidence of it everyday--more than I care to see, if I flip through the channels on my TV during news hour. I've walked through enough of my own pain and more than enough of my friends' to know just how messed up it is.

But even given the state of the world, things shouldn't be the way they are. People who are blessed shouldn't have to feel guilty about being happy; people who are beaten down and hurting shouldn't have to feel guilty about their pain.

Is it just fear and envy that drives us to those reactions?

Or a feeling that somehow one state of being is closer to "normal" than the other?

If we're happy, does that just mean we're ignoring real life? If we're in pain, does that mean we did something wrong?

I've about had it with how afraid we all are of real joy. As far as I've seen, it's far more lasting than pain--once the pain is over, the joy is still there waiting for us. Maybe that's just my own experience, and maybe I'm a little crazy.

I'll just go on being crazy, if that's so. As Puddleglum would say, "Then we've made up a play world that beats your real world hollow."

Except I'm pretty sure it's no play world.
Current Mood: pensivepensive

(15 lit candles | Light a candle)

Comments:


[User Picture]
From:kalquessa
Date:June 1st, 2006 11:36 pm (UTC)
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Nothing really to add, just: word up, yo. Here's to fleeting pain and enduring happiness. It may well be that we couldn't achieve the latter without the former.
[User Picture]
From:izhilzha
Date:June 2nd, 2006 05:57 pm (UTC)
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Here's to fleeting pain and enduring happiness.

*clinks glasses with you*
[User Picture]
From:kerravonsen
Date:June 1st, 2006 11:50 pm (UTC)
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It's hard questions these are...

No, there is not need to be feeling guilty for either joy or pain. But I know the way I've coped with the pain for years was simply saying to myself "that's the way it is; this is a fallen world, it's full of pain, the wages of sin are death, and we're all sinners. We all deserve death, so pain is just par for the course." Pain is life, joy is fleeting, Heaven is where the good stuff happens. But now I'm thinking that was mostly the continuing depression I didn't realize I had. Though it's still mostly true; in this life, there will be pain, lots of it, and most of it is simply fallout, not punishment.

But I still feel these things in my gut: pain is commonplace, joy is a bonus, and death is not something to be feared.
[User Picture]
From:reveilles
Date:June 2nd, 2006 04:57 pm (UTC)
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But I still feel these things in my gut: pain is commonplace, joy is a bonus, and death is not something to be feared.

Yes. And like izhilzha said later, joy is always on the other side. Sometimes it's even in the middle. Pain is commonplace, but compared to the real universe :), these struggles are just "light and temporary afflictions". Just gotta keep holding on to that as we go...
[User Picture]
From:izhilzha
Date:June 2nd, 2006 06:06 pm (UTC)
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No, there is not need to be feeling guilty for either joy or pain.

Yeah, that's how I feel about it; but the more I am around different types of people, the more this seems to present itself. People do feel guilty for pain, and for joy (depending on the circumstances around them)--it's not reasonable nor rational (nor does it take grace into account), but I see it a lot.

I agree with a good deal of what you've said here, particularly in the sense that, yes, pain comes because the world is broken, and because we break the world with our wrongdoings and our sin. That's maybe the only good reasoning for the existence of pain that I've heard.

But I still feel these things in my gut: pain is commonplace, joy is a bonus, and death is not something to be feared.

And I understand what you're saying here, and to a point I agree with you. My disagreement is going to sound like pure semantics, but the difference means a lot to my understanding of the world and of God's work.

Yes, pain is commonplace. Yes, joy is rare--but it's not a "bonus" in the sense of something occasionally offered. It's always there, underlying every bit of existence. We can't see it all the time--or even a lot of the time--but Christ Himself, and joy in him, and joy in creation and existence (the "it is good") is the rooted center of everything. Pain, though abundant and often overwhelming, is in the end only an obstacle to or distraction from the reality of life.

And indeed, death is not to be feared--He has conquered it, and it has become the doorway to the place where the pain is finally vanquished, and there is no barrier between Him and us, between us and the Joy that centers the whole universe.

Or so it has always seemed to me.
[User Picture]
From:kerravonsen
Date:June 2nd, 2006 11:09 pm (UTC)
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Yes, joy is rare--but it's not a "bonus" in the sense of something occasionally offered. It's always there, underlying every bit of existence.

I haven't reached that place yet, I admit. My mind agrees with you, but my gut doesn't.
[User Picture]
From:izhilzha
Date:June 5th, 2006 05:44 pm (UTC)
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My mind agrees with you, but my gut doesn't.

That's fascinating to me, because it's my mind that give me problems in this area--offering all kinds of reasons why I'm nuts to hang onto hope and light and beauty, while my gut stubbornly keeps telling me that joy is just around the next corner or through the next night. My mind catches up when joy actually shows itself.
[User Picture]
From:kerravonsen
Date:June 5th, 2006 10:24 pm (UTC)
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because it's my mind that give me problems in this area--offering all kinds of reasons why I'm nuts to hang onto hope and light and beauty

As you say, fascinating.

My mind says: look, God created the universe, and it was good. It isn't good now, but it does seem to make sense that He intented it to be full of hope and light and beauty. Therefore it's perfecty reasonable to say that hope and joy are the foundation of it all, the core, because that's what it would have been like before the Fall.

And my gut says: "Vanity, vanity, all is vanity and a chasing after wind."

8-)
[User Picture]
From:izhilzha
Date:June 6th, 2006 09:06 pm (UTC)
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Then there's the truth that He brings opposites like us together where we can talk about these things. :-)

And that, indeed, is good.
[User Picture]
From:scionofgrace
Date:June 2nd, 2006 12:54 am (UTC)
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You know, it's a funny thing, if you look at life one way it's horrible, but if you look at it another way, it's beautiful. Like, if I think about how we grew up poor and my brother had cancer and I got made fun of in school and my best friend betrayed me and so on, I could get all depressed. But if I think about my parents who love me (and each other) and the fact that I've never gone hungry and how I know so many great people and I have a God who cares for me, it's a very happy world.

I can expect hardship, but I can also expect joy, and between the two, the joy is, as you said, more enduring.

Love Puddleglum's comment. Loved it for a long time.
[User Picture]
From:izhilzha
Date:June 2nd, 2006 06:25 am (UTC)
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I know what you mean about perspective. At the same time, I think what I see is more concrete than that. I have a hard time keeping to a solidly good perspective; fear comes much too easily to me. And yet--no matter how much at sea I feel, there's always solid ground under my feet somewhere. Even if I've lost my footing, I still know it's there, and I try to find it.

That, I don't think I've ever doubted.

Hence my use of Puddleglum's lovely comment. His faith is a beautiful thing to behold. :-)
[User Picture]
From:kerravonsen
Date:June 2nd, 2006 11:11 pm (UTC)
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(*icon love*)!
[User Picture]
From:aitchmark
Date:June 2nd, 2006 02:30 am (UTC)
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Temperament has something to do with it, and so does wealth.

But emotions in general are evanescent, subject to fluctuation and tides. There is, I think, a deep joy that is not an emotion, but a gift of Grace. This joy can flourish under any circumstances--it might even flourish more when conditions are harsh and cruel.

Puddleglum was a pessimist, but he was not without joy.

Let it flow.
[User Picture]
From:izhilzha
Date:June 2nd, 2006 06:22 am (UTC)
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But emotions in general are evanescent, subject to fluctuation and tides.

*sigh* I suppose I should have clarified; I guess I thought it would be obvious from the context. I am not using the terms "joy" and "pain" in the strictly limited context of emotions. To your comment above, well, duh, of course that's true.

"Pain" could be anything from the grief of loss to chronic physical pain to the strain of not being able to provide for your family or find enough to eat.

"Joy," for me, has many different connotations. The emotion of happiness is only one. C.S. Lewis described the pain of longing he felt when he experienced beauty as "Joy"--a desire for something far beyond what we have or can have right now, so huge and wonderful that we are too small to contain it, and even a glimpse fills us so full that it hurts (and we don't mind). I also mean by it the rock-solid sense, even in the midst of this insane world, that there is a center to it all, that no matter how far away we spiral, there is something or someone we fall back to, like the Earth and gravity. The knowledge that "all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well," even when I don't know what that's going to look like.

Puddleglum was a pessimist, but he was not without joy.

That's a good point. :-) That's why he alone had the strength to stand up to the witch and point out the flimsiness of her lies. No matter how wet a blanket he seemed, no one in those books has a stronger faith in Aslan than Puddleglum.

I see your point about temperment (my brother bounces back from *anything*), but that doesn't explain myself to me, anyway. I don't bounce back very easily from things; I mood swing; I am much more prone to blame myself and wallow in undeserved guilt or fear than I am to go about round enjoying life.

Yet pain has always seemed to me to be the wrapping around a center of joy. If you can get through it--when you get through it--the center is always there. Even if your feet lost touch with the ground, it never left.

I used to say that the center of the universe is Joy.

I need to figure out what I meant by that.
[User Picture]
From:aitchmark
Date:June 2nd, 2006 05:15 pm (UTC)
(Link)
I used to say that the center of the universe is Joy.

See if this helps:

http://aitchmark.livejournal.com/2294.html



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