On Sudden Changes

Hello, readers!

These past few weeks have been full of ups and downs for me. Mostly downs, if I’m honest. I’ve gotten bad news and worse news. Relationships have changed, then changed again. I’ve had conversations that have sparked moments of panic and crisis. All in all, the last two weeks have been kind of intense for me.

Probably the worst part about the whole thing is that I took them for granted. As things that would obviously be there, people who would probably never change. But, of course, that’s not the way things work. People do change and the things you expected to be there are suddenly nowhere to be found. And as you’re falling, suddenly realizing your entire plans have to change, you start scrambling to find stuff to cushion you when you land.

Except, very few things can cushion heartbreak. Unexpected, incredibly painful, a broken heart is all about muddling through and trying to reach the end intact. It about salvaging the pieces and figuring out how to make them fit once you’re ready. Maybe it’s about relearning new patterns for love, channeling them into bigger and better things. Heartbreak is definitely a hard one to stick the landing with, mostly you land in a messy heap. Ice cream and mascara all over the place.

Fortunately, other things, difficult as they are, are much easier to deal with. They’re still messy and insanely frustrating, but they’re manageable. It doesn’t matter how big, how sudden, how completely bereft of options you feel, there’s always a way. Finding a solution and putting it in place, can be immensely satisfying. Especially when a few days ago you were scrabbling around for a way to keep the walls from crashing down.

I still don’t feel like I’ve gotten it all figured out. Sometimes I’m still angry and sad and hurt. Sometimes, my mind wanders into those places where hope lives only to come back and face the disappointment of reality. I’m dealing with it though, day by day. Sometimes, it’s the only thing you can do.

Until next time, readers.

SST Presents Coppee

Short Story Thursdays is a weekly dispatch. Every week you get little known stories in PDF format, accompanied by a short intro and commentary by the guy who runs the whole thing.I started this series called “SST Presents”, so named because that’s the subject title on the emails, to share those stories with you. If you’d like to subscribe, send an email to shutyourlazymouthandread@shortstorythursdays.com

Good evening, readers.

Thursday has come at a weird angle for me. Nothing inherently wrong or bad has happened, but nothing has quite gone right either. It was a series of mildly unfortunate events. It’s left me in a weird mood where I’m not upset in any way, but I’m not happy or at ease. Today has been like being out of synch with the world, like watching a bad video where people’s mouths move before the audio comes through.

An Accident

by Françoise Coppee

Today’s SST dispatch came with undertones of sadness and maybe a sort of angst that I can readily identify with today. After reading the email, I was ready to be heartbroken by this story and I wasn’t disappointed. I was nearly in tears after reading today’s story, maybe just a single tear fueled by a kind of ache for this man who just wanted to love someone else. A man who knew he wasn’t pretty and was willing to wait for a woman to love him in time. Who sought pardon for his mistakes, but only with minor regret knowing she would be happier.

This story is a confession within a confession. This priest who presides over a lonely, little frequented parish finally finds himself with a penitent. After only hearing “the uninteresting confessions of some good women”, he’s surprised to find a man waiting to confess his sins. Let me tell you, this is not an uninteresting confession, although I think he was a good man.

I feel so sad for his lot in life, I can’t even bring myself to condemn him for his actions. There’s a certain beauty in his pain, devoted as he was to a woman who left him for someone else. A woman he stayed close to, whose child he loved, who he helped throughout the years with the little money he had.

For some reason the image I have in my head is of a human version of Eeyore. I picture this guy humble, eyes sad with old pain, but not weighed down by it, a kind of peaceful acceptance of what his life was. And maybe I’m projecting, maybe I’m remaking this fictional man in my sadness’ image. I’m okay with that.

The guy who writes the emails was asking himself why hurting could feel good, that ability to find comfort in pain. I think feeling and accepting someone else’s pain helps ease our own. Those knots in our soul that we can’t quite figure out or give voice to, come undone when we let ourselves ache. Even if it’s for a fictional character. The pain is still there, but it becomes more bearable, maybe easier to work through. I don’t know. But I do feel a bit better now, so maybe there’s something to it after all.

Gentle reminder to subscribe to SST. The stories are solid, the dispatches are usually funny, sometimes serious like the one for today, but always a pleasure to read. I’m not getting paid for this. There’s no affiliation to SST. I just really like the concept and I think the stories they send are worth reading and sharing. So, subscribe. It’s free. Do it. Ok, maybe not so gentle.

Have a good one, readers. Until next time.

Art, Suffering, & Crafts

IMG_0809Today was meant to be an insanely productive day. Instead, I did nothing. Seriously, I didn’t do any of the things I was supposed to do today. It’s terrible.

On the bright side! I got creative and ended up making necklaces out of old clothes.I’m pretty happy with how they turned out, although I need to work on making them look more polished. Still, for an impromptu activity, I’m fairly pleased. Tickled, even. I have a whole bag full of clothes that I was thinking of selling or giving away, but now I’m thinking of keeping them and making some more necklaces. Who knows, maybe I can sell them and make a bit of money that way.

I’ve been thinking about a scene in St. Urbain’s Horseman. Where Jake, the main character, is wondering about the effects his happy marriage could have on his children…

“Jake feared that a felicitous marriage not only reflected poorly on Nancy and him, stamping them superficial, tin-like, but it was also bad for the kids. Everybody he admired, his most imaginative and resourceful friends, had emerged from afflicted homes. Dad a zero, mum a carnivore. Parents so embittered that they wrote off their own lives and toiled only for the children’s sake. Divorced parents, vying shamelessly for the kids’ affections. Quarreling, lying, but, inadvertently, shaping rebels. Hammering out artists. Whereas in their home there was only symmetry, affection, parents who took pleasure in each other’s company.

What are we spawning here, Jake wondered? Surely from such a well-adjusted and cozy childhood only ciphers could spring. Cocooned and soft-minded dolts, who would grow up totally unprepared for life. Sammy would never shoplift. Molly wouldn’t have hysterics. In a drug culture, they were already tranquillized.”

We always hear about how true Art requires not only talent and dedication, but also a certain amount of suffering. Blood, sweat, and tears have always been touted as essential ingredients in the making of truly great art. It is necessary to to feel intense pain in order to accurately portray it, in order for our art to be relevant. Otherwise, art becomes superficial and meaningless. At least, that’s what people say and it’s Jake’s concern, as well. Will being happy and loved mean that his children will grow up to be adults without dimension, people who lack strength and resilience.

But, is it true? Does a lack of hardship mean a lack of character. Not petty hardships, but true, life-changing ones. The kind that tear your soul, that make you lose your beliefs and hope – death, poverty, hunger, betrayal. All of these demand more than a pound of flesh and it’s thought that it’s this karmic payment that imbues the artist with a greatness that goes beyond merely being talented. When the soul tears in half part of it goes into the artwork or the writing, just like a Horcrux (Harry Potter is relevant everywhere). However, is it impossible to achieve that particular quality without having gone through a similar experience? Can great art be made out of not knowing “real” pain?

Here is another thought. There are a great deal of writers and artists who have been terrible people, far from having suffered, they’ve caused suffering in others. These are people thought of as geniuses and pioneers in their fields, but have also been rapists, mysoginists, even murderers. Not to mention, a lot of artists, musicians, and writers throughout history have just been dicks. People have suffered at the hands of moody, self-righteous, sometimes violent creatives. Does this mean then that art’s relationship with suffering goes both ways? Is it possible suffering is necessary, irregardless of whether one suffers or inflicts it on others? Do we have access to the pain we cause, even if we can’t feel it?

I don’t have have  answers to these questions. I think rather than needing to suffer or feel what people refer to as “real pain”, what we truly need are experiences. Of course, going through difficult and painful situations can definitely breed good art, but I don’t think it’s a guarantee of it. Whether they’re happy and fulfilling or painful and heartbreaking, we need meaningful experiences to shape our lives and, in the process, our art.

Now, having taken this moment to talk very seriously about art, I’m going to leave you with a piece that’s not even a little bit serious.

Sorry, not sorry! Stay golden, readers.