When you’re in pain, you tend to seek distraction.
When it comes to pain, you know, that kind of pain that isn’t a bodily sensation which you can clearly pinpoint, it gets really tricky. You drown yourself with mildly amusing music, videos or information, so that the nagging pain feels just like a minor nuisance. You have every reason to look away.
And distraction works well on physical pain, for flesh wounds and bodily damage, much like how it’s portrayed in movies where a character distracts another character during a critical moment where treating a wound leads to a great deal of pain.
But pain – the metaphysical kind isn’t that easy to wave off. It’s so sharp and heavy that, if you were to be left alone in an empty room so there’s nothing standing between you and it, it would take on a shape so poignant that you can feel its grip suddenly tightening around your neck. But still, don’t look away
Only in paying attention to that pain, in capitalizing on our capacity to transform chaos in order, which is only tapped in when we engage with the world consciously, that we can find within that pain a source of meaning.
In that moment of awareness, pain is felt completely, in all its glory and context. It’s as though that such profound pain has always been immanent within the structure of existence and is only called forth by paying attention. Looking away is denying that part of existence that would just creep in again eventually, it’s denying reality of its constituents. If you deny that part of reality that’s present within you, you deny a part of yourself. A person who denies himself cannot be authentic. So, don’t look away.
People often describe those who’ve seen horrible things in their lives as those who looked into the abyss. But that’s not the end of it. Looking into the abyss is one thing, and it’s an unfortunate thing to have to look at in the first place, but actual defeat comes when we blink the moment the abyss stares back. Stare, stare into the abyss. Don’t look away.
In distracting yourself by flooding your brain with constant stimulations, you choose to look away, which can make life a bit more bearable momentarily, as now you exist in a state of consciousness that’s being spread thin over too many places. There’s hardly any consciousness at any particular point. Don’t look away.
Don’t look away. Confront the suffering. Engage with it. There’s no guarantee that your confrontation will have any merits. Perhaps it’ll be for naught, but perhaps you’ll be able to emerge from that staring contest victorious and be a better, more integrated, person. And maybe, just maybe, you can make the world a better place.