But trying to uphold the fantasy that this is the best of all possible worlds is a difficult thing for the mind to do in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Just reading the daily newspaper should cause the slightest bit of doubt. Yet I kept holding all the pain within me and around me. It was as though I was holding my finger in the hole of the proverbial dike, trying to hold back the flood of tears that lived with me. But the dike would leak every once in a while, as it did when I saw the pain on that little boy’s face as his lunch spilled all over the ground.
One day the dike cracked open and I could no longer hold back the flood. I realized that all the hunger, greed, illness, unfairness, pain and horror in the world was real. It was not a fragment of anyone’s imagination or a result of negative thinking. The despair poured all over me and through me. What a blow to a well-defended personality. It took a while to absorb the shock of my despair and restructure my life in a more genuine and life-affirming way. But it was well worth the effort.
Having made the Land of Tears an integral part of my life so many years ago has had enormous benefits. In the first place, I’ve joined the human race. When I watch the struggle of others, I can connect with my own struggle, and we are no longer strangers. I don’t have to turn away. I can embrace them and their pain and let them know they are not alone. I’m a lot kinder and more patient, and that makes me feel good. I’ve learned to judge others a lot less harshly, remembering that deep within them exists their own Land of Tears, no matter how they may appear on the outside. What they do and say is just their way of handling hurt.
JEFFERS, Susan. End the Struggle and Dance with Life. Great Britain: Hodder and Stoughton 2005. 252 pp. (non-fiction)