Empowerment

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Jane Austen (1775-1817)

“In vain have I struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.”

In spite of her deeply-rooted dislike, she could not be insensible to the compliment of such a man’s affection, and though her intentions did not vary for an instant, she was at first sorry for the pain he was to receive; till, roused to resentment by his subsequent language, she lost all compassion in anger. She tried, however, to compose herself to answer him with patience, when he should have done. He concluded with representing to her the strength of that attachment which, in spite of all his endeavours, he had found impossible to conquer; and with expressing his hope that it would now be rewarded by her acceptance of his hand. As he said this, she could easily see that he had no doubt of a favourable answer. He spoke of apprehension and anxiety, but his countenance expressed real security. Such a circumstance could only exasperate farther, and when he ceased, the colour rose into her cheeks, and she said,

“In such cases as this, it is, I believe, the established mode to express a sense of obligation for the sentiments avowed, however unequally they may be returned. It is natural that obligation should be felt, and if I could feel gratitude, I would now thank you. But I cannot — I have never desired your good opinion, and you have certainly bestowed it most unwillingly. I am sorry to have occasioned pain to any one. It has been most unconsciously done, however, and I hope will be of short duration. The feelings which, you tell me, have long prevented the acknowledgment of your regard, can have little difficulty in overcoming it after this explanation.”

Mr. Darcy, who was leaning against the mantle-piece with his eyes fixed on her face, seemed to catch her words with no less resentment than surprise. His complexion became pale with anger, and the disturbance of his mind was visible in every feature. He was struggling for the appearance of composure, and would not open his lips, till he believed himself to have attained it. The pause was to Elizabeth’s feelings dreadful. At length, in a voice of forced calmness, he said,

“And this is all the reply which I am to have the honour of expecting! I might, perhaps, wish to be informed why, with so little endeavour at civility, I am thus rejected.” — Pride & Prejudice (1813), Chapter XI of Volume II (Chap. 34)

Nosferatu

I don’t attach importance to sunshine anymore,
Or to glittering fountains which youth is so fond of.
I love the darkness and the shadows
Where I can be alone with my thoughts.

I am the descendant of an old family.
Time is an abyss, profound as a thousand nights.
Centuries come and go.
To be unable to grow old is terrible.

Death is not the worst.
There are things more horrible than death.
Can you imagine enduring centuries,
Experiencing each day the same futile things?

Making the Distinction

Cake

It’s funny for me to think about the notion of pain; it has to be because I experience so much of it. If I let the weight of how I felt affect me the way it could, I probably wouldn’t survive. With that being said, I realized one day that there is a distinction to made between persons with disabilities and persons who have disabilities who, consequently, are in constant pain because of said disability.

If I ask some of the people I work with about their disabilities, the answers will come varied of course. But what I’ve come to understand is that some people become disabled, or are born disabled, and they choose to live without this becoming a barrier; they’re able to live barrier-free lives because they’ve come to adjust to their disability. As to my inquiry, part of this will entail learning whether or not a disability causes constant pain. And from this line of inquiry I’ve learned that barriers have been overcome because while a disability might exist, it often exists without the inclusion of pain.

That is where my story comes into play. For the longest time I’ve had to explain to people about my disability, which is nasty work because it involves two factors: one is that unless you follow me around for the day, where you will come to notice how I’ll eventually start limping, then my disability will remain largely invisible. Secondly, my disability causes intense, chronic pain. It is pain that will never go away, unless I decide to become transhuman and have both my ankles and feet replaced by robotic parts.

Having become disabled after, at one time, not having been disabled, I can look at my situation from various standpoints. And I know how easy it is to look at and hear about someone’s problem, thinking that I can or could possibly understand, when in fact there’s no way that I could. This notion of viewpoint is important to me because as an Atheist, I have trouble when people tell me that from a life of suffering there is some great reward to be had in the afterlife. Well, I don’t believe that, which means I have to work doubly hard to try and achieve some measure of happiness in the life I’m living now. This, of course, is difficult, because I’m in constant pain. I wake up positive enough, though often times it won’t last. Pain gets old and makes one weary; it causes depression. It’s difficult to be active, and when others can tell you’re in pain, there’s little to work with in terms of ideas like “having fun.”

Cake 1

That is why I can appreciate Jennifer Aniston’s work in Cake (2014). Her portrayal of a woman in constant pain is something I can relate to, and I appreciate that she put forth the effort in not making anything glamorous about the experience. One result of her character’s situation causes her to suffer from recurrent dreams about jumping off the Los Angeles freeway maze, a point on which I can relate to a little too well. I love movies but often I get queasy when I think about some actor demanding trillions of dollars to play a part, so I don’t often give praise to these ridiculous endeavors. Every once in a while, though, a movie comes along that is somewhat worth mentioning, if it conveys the experience of what a person really goes through well enough.