So often we want to flee it, numb it, deny it. Pain hurts, but it is a Chironic tool to prevail. Chiron was the wisest Greek centaur who, nonetheless, lost his immortality and became a wounded healer. Chiron represents the seminal story, told across cultures, that we humans learn best through suffering. The Buddhists believe that suffering is the result of attachment, and letting go is the answer. Hindus teach that we will be stuck on the karmic wheel until we release it. My interpretation of this is that we need to relax and let suffering in, allow it to mold us. When we succumb to suffering and permit it to wash over us, it disperses like a wave. The more we fight it, the worse pain gets. "It demands to be felt." For a reason.
Which brings me to relationships. Our relationships with others are often where our pain plays out. When we care, we become vulnerable. We open ourselves up to disappointment, hurt, rejection. In the film, the dying Hazel tells her emerging boyfriend, Gus, that she wants to spare him the pain of loving her because she will be leaving soon, for good. He protests that it's worth it.
Bob Marley says, "Truth is everybody is going to hurt you; you just gotta find the one's worth suffering for." Not everyone is. Sometimes we throw our "pearls before swine," because we choose to care for someone unable or unwilling to reciprocate, but even that is a lesson too. "Don't be reckless with other people's hearts, and don't put up with people that are reckless with yours," Kurt Vonnegut sagely advised. That's one where I've made many mistakes on both sides of the balance.
In Hazel's masterful private eulogy for Gus (in response to his request to "attend his own funeral"), she talks about the "infinite number of infinities" in the universe. She thanks Gus for the forevers he gave her, those moments when we are willing to be in our pain and still reach out for love and healing, even though we know it won't last forever. Ironically, these are the times when we taste the infinity of the source of all love and life in the eternity of full attention; channeled through another human being.
When we block the pain, we shut out the mystery of experience. After all, that's the only thing we've got.
Listen to Kathy Mattea's cover of Kate Wolf's, "Give Yourself to Love" on youtube.com by clicking on the play button below.