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In viticulture, it is said that vines must suffer to produce good fruit.
It is through stressing the vines that we can produce intensely flavored grapes and—apparently—the best wine.
This practice got me thinking about my own pain and suffering and how we, as humans, tend to romanticize things that hurt. Prolonged suffering might turn grapes into the best kind of wine, but it doesn’t necessarily turn us into the best version of ourselves.
I’m currently navigating the choppy waters of letting go of the pain and suffering of a relationship that didn’t pan out. No matter how tired I am of my heartache, letting go of the pain feels difficult. I fear that letting go will invalidate the existence of that love in my life—that it will actually be over. So at times it feels better to hold on to the hurt just as I’ve held on to the grey hoodie that still smells of him. This is a pretty common feeling when experiencing any kind of loss.
This isn’t the first time I’ve experienced heartbreak, or that I’ve caught myself using my hurt as a muse for creative expression. What is this romantic obsession with pain about?
We have come to believe that pleasure and pain are one in the same—that pain equals meaning; that it is something necessary for us to grow into better, stronger individuals; that without pain there is no real love, no real reward. Pain, we believe, is necessary to create.
I may not have not mastered the art of not obsessing over pain, but I have discovered the truth about pain. That’s something. Pain is real and we cannot escape it. Experiencing it will inevitably change us in some way, but we must remember that it is not the only path to change and growth. Most importantly, it definitely does not deserve a leading role in our lives and our hearts. Pain is meant to be felt and worked through, not controlled or dismissed. It is just another emotion. It should be treated as such.
Pain is not a part of a greater narrative—some conscious thing that comes up with the intent to teach us a lesson. Pain is not the only way to learn, and it is certainly not the best way to learn. We must teach ourselves our own lessons as we observe this rather typical emotion trample into our experience.
So when the feeling comes up, acknowledge it, sit with it, embrace it, and let it go. But whatever you do please don’t fall in love with it.
Let’s not forget that we are humans, not vines.