Thoughts at the End of a Year
A lot of what I have tried to do my whole life is ignore fear and stress and pain. Push them away, and insulate my life so that they don't come close to me.
And some of that is reasonable, right? We should try to make our world good and safe, that's called being wise. We should seek to make the world better day by day.
But pain and fear and stress are part of it. We shouldn't be afraid of fear. We shouldn't try to close discomfort entirely out of our lives. We should accept them as part of the world and make space for them, tolerate them and let them teach us their lessons.
This doesn't mean we should dive into them, we shouldn't move all the way to depression and fatalism. But optimism can exist alongside fear. I can be uncertain about the future and still be hopeful about it as well.
We lost our old dog this year. It hurt. It was hard. But the pain of losing him in no way offsets the joy of having lived with him for all those years.
There are times and places where we simply need to make space in our hearts. We need to make room for grief to sit with us, and let it do its work. We don’t need to fear or loathe pain, though of course we needn’t seek it out either.
What stories are we telling our selves as we interact with others? Is there a way to moderate the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves as well? —Me, a few days ago, not sure when.
This entry is a potpourri of a lot of things that have been swirling around in my brain, so yeah, it's a bit disjointed.
I've been thinking about why I like Doctor Who and Harry Dresden. I mentioned to a friend of mine that they are similar in my mind; they fit in the same “slot”. And I wasn't sure why. I've been thinking about it more.
They are both characters that live almost permanently on the cusp of the disaster curve. But in both cases that constant fear and stress has made their characters kinder, not harder. The Doctor has two hearts.
It's hard to talk about the importance of an imaginary hero. But heroes ARE important: Heroes tell us something about ourselves. History tells us who we used to be, documentaries tell us who we are now; but heroes tell us who we WANT to be. And a lot of our heroes depress me. But when they made this particular hero, they didn't give him a gun—they gave him a screwdriver to fix things. They didn't give him a tank or a warship or an x-wing fighter—they gave him a box from which you can call for help. And they didn't give him a superpower or pointy ears or a heat-ray—they gave him an extra HEART. They gave him two hearts! And that's an extraordinary thing. There will never come a time when we don't need a hero like the Doctor. —Steven Moffat (emphasis added)
So that's the lesson I'm trying to learn. If I'm going to be a “leader” or some kind of important person in other people's lives, I want to be the one with two hearts. The one that listens more, that accepts other people's stress and pain and turns them into kindness and understanding.
Dresden is a little different. He was always kind, but he has a hard edge. But the effect pain has on him is to make him able to tolerate it better. In the early books he's weak, he's almost human. In later books he accepts that he's taking a beating, and that it's okay, he can roll with it and keep going, keep helping. He never lets go of his principles, even if he has to twist himself to fit into a bad world. I can understand that world. I want to accept that. That I can get through things, and stop worrying about them when they come my way. I don't need to hide from hard things.