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When Suffering and Silliness Collide


This week I shared two posts. In one, I was literally rapping about the end of the World Cup. In the other, I reflected on if my daughter were a child migrant.

The silly and the suffering. The joy and the pain.

The beautiful complexity of life means holding conflicting emotions gently in our hands while still placing one foot in front of the other.

This tension is blatantly obvious on Facebook. Yesterday I scrolled through news about the Malaysian jet being shot down, instantly followed by a post detailing the hilarious mischief of a friend's kid. How can I laugh mere seconds after I take in such tragedy?

It's no one's fault, of course, it just is life's truth. We experience supreme delight and crushing sorrow simultaneously, both individually and collectively.

I have chosen to live in difficult places for the last 15 years (off and on). Sometimes it is a challenge to figure out how to appropriately engage the world when confronted with unending hurt. Aware of so much brokenness, how do you enjoy living within it?

Billy and I used to joke that we had the spiritual gift of DDR (Dance Dance Revolution). We had a habit of inviting beautiful, servant-hearted folks over to our home... and then challenging them to a dance-off. Folks are hesitant at first. Aren't we supposed to be discussing strategies for loving our neighbors with dignity? Then, before you know it, they're sweating in our living room like their lives depended on it.

We were always amazed at the response: emails and texts after the fact overflowing with gratefulness. Somehow... in the midst of all the hurting... it's easy to forget the fun. It may even feel too indulgent.

How can I laugh when I know others are crying?
How can I spend time creating amazing art when there's so much work to be done?
How can I enjoy life when there's so much misery?

I have sometimes struggled to find my place in the social justice subculture. And part of it is because, while I appreciate a good documentary, if I had to choose between that and filming a rap video...

In fact, I made a conscious decision with all my recent World Cup foolishness not to write about or share articles about the challenges and protests regarding Brazil's hosting. (Wait... did I just break my own rule?) Not because it didn't matter. Not because I wasn't reading anything on it. But because I decided to focus on the festivities and the tomfoolery this go 'round.

I will never ascribe to an "ignorance is bliss" philosophy. I love to learn things, and I desire to know more about the world. However, when I was studying for my Master's in Sociology, I was spent a lot of time feeling sad or angry. I need the balance of laughter and dance parties.

How do you balance brokenness and delight in your life? To get started, here's a quick list of some ways we've attempted to incorporate the fun and ridiculous into our little world. (We never seem to need to add pain...)
  • Celebrate - Throw parties, eat cake, give gifts, cook tacos for an army!
  • Create & Consume Beauty - Paint, read, get outside, go to an exhibit.
  • Express Gratitude - It truly does the heart good.
  • Value Solitude - If you haven't yet, read this book. It'll change your life.
  • Build Relationships - You need friends to encourage you, cry with you, and dance with you.
What would you add to the list?

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