Why Do We Willingly Open Ourselves Up to Pain?

I am currently reading a book by Peter Heller called, The Dog Stars. It’s about a man who is surviving in America after a disease has wiped out the entire population except for a handful of people. His wife passed away due to the disease and he is wrestling with the heartache.

Is it possible to love so desperately that life is unbearable? I don’t mean unrequited. I mean being in the love. In the midst of it and desperate. Because knowing it will end, because everything does. End.”

I have been to an inordinate amount of funerals the past few years. Seeing people grieve over the loss of a spouse paints a picture of this sentiment. It’s not pretty. It’s not fair. My heart never gets hardened to the sight of it.

I went to a funeral and a wedding reception Saturday. Seeing two people dance with their whole life ahead of them is much easier than watching a widow say goodbye for the last time.

Loving so desperately that life is unbearable is a dark perspective. It is about loving someone so much it scares you to death. As Heller writes, it is not loving someone and being afraid they won’t love you back. It’s loving someone with everything and being afraid they will pass away. It’s impossible to imagine life without that person and it makes you wonder if it is worth it because it is not a matter of if their life will end but when.

How do we deal with this? We open ourselves up to pain knowing it will end. It might be tomorrow, it might be 10 years from now, it might be 50 years from now, but it does end.

Of course it is worth it. Living life without loving would be an awful existence. We were created to love.

I believe The Head And The Heart sum this up greatly in their song, “Fire/Fear.” The lines at the end of the song speak volumes:

I want to feel the fire again, with you or anybody else.
I want to feel the fear again, with you or anybody else.”

That is what it’s about. After losing someone the hurt is so great you wonder if it had been better to have never experienced it at all. But realizing you need to feel the excitement or fire again is what really matters. Even though it is scary to give in to loving without holding back, that is what we are meant to do. Love isn’t reasonable which is what makes it great.

If there were no risk involved it wouldn’t be love.

Open yourself up to feel the fire and feel the fear. Make every moment count.