Oct 24, 2014

WHEN YOU’RE 19 WITH YOUR GRIEF

Early Work Sherry Mills #29Early Work Sherry Mills #28Here’s a little self-portrait / photogram composite and part of a larger installation I made at 19, the final of my darkroom class. I had taken my partially broken 35mm Canon to my favorite little cemetery, a tiny fenced in plot holding the 19th century remains of the Chamberlain family in East Albany, VT; I grew up on that family’s hill. I always felt comfortable there among the graves somehow, like their inhabitants could offer me some understanding from the depths of their silence over the heartbreak and health plagues that sought some comfort in trips home from college.

Grief burns no less at 19 than at later points in life. But at 19, we might wish to dramatize its demons, as the rearing of their heads is more fresh somehow. We are obvious about our pain; we paint it upon ourselves in bold strokes like war paint. We put our heads behind the bars of our dollhouse chairs if actual prisons hold no place for us and our seemingly clean records, and we make selfies.

That is, until we wake up and realize that we all suffer, and that suffering isn’t exclusive, precious, or noteworthy, but simply commonplace. Until we realize that those who need not paint their pain so obviously are maybe the stronger among us. Until we realize that pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional, as a friend just reminded me over the phone…

I have no answers as to what is choice and what is destined, but I can say that my life feels to be about finding peace with what is, as opposed to what isn’t; as opposed to what I assume I don’t yet have.

When what is, is my gold, my mental suffering on the way for groceries can be abstracted, can be seen from a perspective removed and watching. What was just taking me down can become a cause for cell-deep smiling…

And therein lies the way I’ve been able to take every expanded breath that has ever happened in my body.

I breathe deeply when what is, is enough.

 

 

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    3 Comments

  1. dana says:

    I love the idea that enough breeds itself better than rabbits…I don’t like that enough is not obvious and it requires recognition.

  2. tim mills says:

    Suffering doesn’t seem to be optional. Whining is optional. From an article about author and Zen priest Peter Mathiessen:

    “The Buddha says all suffering comes from clinging.”

    Your blog has rich food for thought.

    Love,

    Dad

  3. Noel Nelson says:

    Maybe to suffer is to live and enjoy each breath we take!

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