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Location: Midwest, United States

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Just A Matter Of Time?

They say, “Time heals all wounds.” They’ve been saying it for a long time, probably throughout human history. I’m willing to bet there are variants of this pithy adage within many cultures, in most languages.

Time heals all wounds?

I suppose it does for many. Certainly, most (not all) of the hurts I’ve suffered cause no pain today. People suffer grievous trauma and yet somehow, someway, someday manage to pick themselves up and smilingly attend to life again. It’s logical to believe that a heart can heal the way the rest of the body does. Given medicine enough, rest enough and time enough, wounds close, scars form, pain subsides, then disappears. Why not assume the broken heart heals the same?

But this healing thing isn’t quite universal, is it? People walk among us with hearts forever broken. Some bear their pain quietly, hiding it from everyone. Others live their pain out loud, descending into hells of drug abuse, alcoholism and abject despair. I’ve seen enough of that to know that some of us, indeed, suffer pain from which we don’t recover.

I learned my lessons in pain while growing up in the Lithuanian ghetto on Chicago’s south side. As in any community, there were ample measures of human kindness, happiness and excellence. Then there was the dark side. The main street consisted of tavern after tavern after tavern. Refugees who had lost everything gathered there nightly. As each night grew long, pain was made audible through the blather or bile that spewed from drunken lips, addled brains and traumatized hearts.

The theater crowd my parents moved with seemed the hardest hit. Precious few of the displaced actors, directors, musicians, artists, poets or playwrights escaped alcoholism. Most died before their time.

Now, I know there are some who truly believe that all wounds can heal with time. They look at those lying in the gutter with an admixture of pity and disgust. “It’s a sign of weakness,” they proclaim. Perhaps it is. Maybe we’re all just Twelve-Steps away from salvation. Then again, maybe not.

What I saw in my parents’ friends was this: I saw people who had experienced sublime happiness at some point in their lives. It seemed to me that the individuals severed from the greatest joys were the ones who did not, could not, recover. It's a long, long way to fall from the zenith to the depths. It takes a miracle just to survive.

I think I understand these lost souls now. It’s one thing to suffer a loss or hurt; it’s quite another matter to lose something or someone so precious, so enriching, and so profound that the heart simply knows it will never experience such bliss again. Never again. How much strength and will does it take to wake in the morning and venture into the world when you know that the day ahead will, most assuredly, not be better than that blessed day, so long ago…forever lost…when you truly bore wings? Can there be greater despair?

And the pain seems to grow ever deeper with the passing of the days. Time, you see, is running out. Salvation, redemption, or simple respite, fade farther from one's reach.

How can the heart heal when the wound is reopened each morning?

* * *

The Cruse
By Louise Townsend Nicholl

Joy and the soul are mates, as heart and sorrow;
The soul has portal difficult and narrow,
Being a vessel oddly wrought, a cruse
Which, proffered sorrow, always must refuse.

The heart’s more open and allows despair,
Fluid importunate and not so rare.
The soul for joy is shaped, the heart for ruth,
And love’s the only oil that flows in both.

* * *


Blogger soul_rebel said...

Again, our thoughts seem to have overlapped. If you'll recall, I've mused on pain over time as well.

Tue Aug 29, 11:21:00 PM  
Blogger Jonas said...

Yes, but you wrote far more eloquently than I.

Tue Aug 29, 11:35:00 PM  
Blogger soul_rebel said...

Oh that's far from true, kind sir. A different approach for I'm sure a different catalyst.

Interesting words though, pain that keeps on giving must, I would think, be alive itself.

And I personally would not doubt that possibility.

Wed Aug 30, 01:07:00 AM  
Blogger Jonas said...

"Interesting words though, pain that keeps on giving must, I would think, be alive itself.!"

Perhaps, it's the memories living on; and the pain is their way of reminding us that they are too powerful to die.

Thu Aug 31, 02:09:00 PM  

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