What happens when the thing that causes you the most pain is also what keeps you alive?
I think that my sensitive nature, which causes me such pain, could be the very thing that keeps me from going insane, giving me an outlet for all the emotions I am unable to express or transform.
It’s becoming more of an issue as I am trying to reconcile my need to advocate for animals with the fact that watching anything that shows animals in pain – being tortured, killed, abused – leaves me nauseated and sobbing. Not a great attribute if your job it is to make those abuses public via the media, both social and traditional.
I recently applied for a job with PETA and did fine until I got to the part where they wanted me to create some campaigns around some of their current exposes, including abuse of horses, dog food festivals and farming abuses of chickens and cows. My heart raced and I couldn’t breathe, I felt like it was me that was being attacked not the animals.
This depth of empathy is hard to handle on a daily basis. I couldn’t imagine doing a job where I had to watch these images every day and then be expected to pull myself together and start calling a generally unresponsive media.
So, as I often do, I argue with myself; should I seek help to change this part of me? Do I want to rid myself of my sensitivity which, in many ways, is an essential part of my being? My Bodhisattva nature, which drew me to Buddhism, is a natural state for me. But is there a way I can learn to harness it or transform it into a positive action?
I keep thinking of my favorite scene in “Broadcast News” where Holly Hunter’s type-A news producer goes into a booth and just sobs for about a minute. Then she pulls herself together, blows her nose and goes back to being hell on wheels. She needs the release, but then moves on instead of staying in that dark, wet place.
I want to live my life with joy and hope, not fear and sadness. I know that both joy/hope and fear/sadness are inevitable threads in our emotional tapestry; my faith teaches that to try to eliminate any of the human conditions is a recipe for disaster and pointless. Life is what it is. When we struggle to eliminate some hated trait, we are at odds with ourselves. Maybe the energy it takes to constantly fight with our spirit is what drags us down, cancels out our positive actions.
No wonder I can’t sleep at night and wake up exhausted. I’m tilting at dragons in my dreams…