The Unbearable Lightness of Being

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My boyfriend and I are going through a challenging period in our lives, which is carrying into our relationship (because how can it not?). As two rather sensitive individuals, the cultural climate and external events hit us harder than others. And in the case of my boyfriend, personal challenges are also dominating this sensitivity space as well. (Not to mention that he is a poet and if you are one that understands that ‘poet’ – every artistic identity really – is a verb and emotional state as well as a noun, then you can empathize with what I am expressing in that sentence.)

Malena Erman wrote in her memoir, Our House Is on Fire, in reference to her daughter Greta Thunberg: “What happened to our daughter can’t be explained simply by a medical acronym, a diagnosis or dismissed as ‘otherness’. In the end, she simply couldn’t reconcile the contradictions of modern life. Things simple just didn’t add up.” I think this pretty much sums up what my boyfriend and I are currently wading through and how we are both reacting to all this “muchness”. To the outsider, it may look as if we have begun unraveling at the seams; slowly, and not so slowly, breaking and becoming unable to reconcile the contradictions in the topsy-turvy society that we live in. But, I think that we – and all the extra sensitives of the world – are just manifesting physically what we are all feeling.

Because this “muchness” is not limited to just my boyfriend and I, it is manifesting itself in practically us all, we just express it and release it in our own ways. We all seem to be ricocheting off walls in different states of emotion: despair, anger, sadness, hate, fear, desperation, etc, etc. I think the problem is that we cannot seem to recognize that every one of us is in this same state of pinging off emotional walls. Sometimes the healthiest thing a person can do is to fall apart. The problem is that it doesn’t help in the long run.

No one person’s pain or experience is more important than another’s. We are all existing in this world together and we all experience life to our own degree of intensity. You cannot compare trauma or joy, deeming one higher or worthier than the other. What I go through is not “bigger” that what you go through. Though I may be able to function in life when someone else going through a similar experience may not, does not at all mean I am a stronger and more capable person. It simply means that we are different. And therein lies the word that we must embrace and accept: difference. Let me reiterate: we must *embrace* - not ‘tolerate’ – the diversity of the individual and the individual experience. Organism diversity is literally what Earth is composed of and what it needs to function properly (of which it currently is not).

Without this embrace and acceptance, we find ourselves in the position we are today: disrespecting, belittling, undermining and deeming one another unworthy, less than. We find ourselves trapped in our own prejudices and hypocrisies, cemented in our own ways and beliefs. We find ourselves believing that our way of life or view of life is the “right” way and any who believe otherwise are “wrong”. This isn’t new. This is a cycle that has been repeated throughout history and even though we are supposedly the wiser of it, we have yet to collective change our actions to end this cycle. We are the ouroboros: the serpent devouring its own tail.

My life, and yours maybe, would be significantly less exhausting if I had the solution to ending all this suffering. But the truth is, that life must, and always will, have waves of suffering. There cannot be joy without sorrow, they exist overlapped. What we do have control over is using the wisdom gleaned by those before us – housed throughout public and academic libraries worldwide whose collections grow daily - and stop eating our own tails. Embracing that the beginning is different from the end; that the only constant is change and evolution; and that without diversity we will perish. I think it would be in our best interest to succumb and plunge into the flow of the stream of life and stop clinging to what once was, for it was only there in that instant and shall never exist in that way again. Embracing difference can be challenging, it may even hurt, but if we don’t start, our collective suffering will never stop. How can one begin to see another human as simply another human if we do not start letting go of the language we use to divide us? How can we provide a future to other humans if we not stop clinging to the past and embrace the present?

-Samantha Hanchett, Marketing + Outreach Coordinator

*Please note that the opinions of “Thoughts” are just that and do not necessarily represent the views of the Thomas County Public Library.


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