Ariel Rucker Ehlers
Los Angeles, CA
It’s so easy to get discouraged by how cruel life can be at times, this is sort of a reminder to be kind to ourselves and others and not get wrapped up in unrealistic timelines or the superficial portrayal of purpose.
I used to romanticize the idea of strength, and without an understanding of context willed it into my life. I told myself a story with missing pieces, imagined who I’d be without how I’d get there. And when, inevitably, I found myself in this place we all go through, I found pain could be something I hadn’t considered before. It didn’t have to stay inside my capacity to understand
It could be something I couldn’t shut my eyes to or explain away, it could be wild.
Pain spilled out through all the holes in my story. It took on shapes. It looked like grief and anger, sometimes despair. It was dark and sticky and determined. It becomes a thing that swallows you up. Maybe it eats you whole, other times it slowly takes you bit by bit until you’re in a pit that’s shaped like you.
It looks like and smells like and acts like you.
Greeting the world with your words, seeing the world through your eyes.
And you wear it like and invisible shield
You do everything through it.
Sometimes it’s completely paralyzing, other times it’s a thorn in your side. Then there are moments when you think you’ve climbed out, but it covers you up again. It may visit for a short time, or stay so long it becomes and old friend. Its familiar and predictable and maybe you even want it to stay.
What we so easily forget is that the going through is necessary, a means to an end. We want the answers and the reasons and what we learn is that they aren’t always there. Maybe they aren’t good enough. What is the purpose of suffering?
I think I’ll never know, it will forever be an unfinished story. But I do wholeheartedly believe that we learn so we can share. Sometimes purpose isn’t big and grand. It’s not always flashy or loud, we don’t have to save the whole world. Sometimes it’s as simple as saying a few words to someone who really needs to hear them.