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A scar across one's view - cellophane — LiveJournal
the story of an invisible girl
A scar across one's view
Earlier today a friend posted a quote that really got me thinking. Words in general today have me thinking.

"...(I)t's not that I don't suffer, it's that I know the unimportance of suffering, I know that pain is to be fought and thrown aside, not to be accepted as part of one's soul and as a permanent scar across one's view of existence."
- Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged

That phrase, "a permanent scar across one's view", caught my attention. I picture it almost like a veil with a red gash through it, coloring everything a person sees. How easy it is to let pain do that.

While I approve of her conclusion, I disagree with Ms. Rand's implication that suffering should be discarded entirely. I don't think that is possible, nor do I think it is wise. The past, both the good and bad, is an essential part of a person. To pretend that pain has never existed is to make oneself less than whole. Scars add dimension.

The scar is there, but how do I choose to wear it? Will I fold it up, tuck it somewhere quiet, and gaze at life unimpeded? Or will I cling to that pain, draping it around me as an identity, allowing the gauzy veil to hide me and color everything I see?


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From: writerwench Date: February 21st, 2008 11:16 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh yes... what a good phrase for that lamentable human habit of clinging tight to old hurts and slights, and allowing them to colour one's view of the world. I have a relative who does that, and she's been so bitter and twisted about imagined past slights that she's practically cut herself out of the family. It's impossible to have a rational conversation with her on family matters.
min8ive From: min8ive Date: February 21st, 2008 01:01 pm (UTC) (Link)
Ditto! This describes my mother exactly. Pity.
radiantsoul From: radiantsoul Date: February 21st, 2008 11:29 am (UTC) (Link)
Rand has a simplistic view of human nature, but I don't see that perceiving oneself as a victim is ever very useful.

I suppose it is like the equivalent of rose tinted glasses. Except rather than being rose tinted they get dropped and land in dog shit. Who wants to see the world through a shitty filter of pain?
From: stilldocked_too Date: February 21st, 2008 02:03 pm (UTC) (Link)
Interesting that you equate idealized with simplistic.
radiantsoul From: radiantsoul Date: February 21st, 2008 03:14 pm (UTC) (Link)
I do.

The main purpose of creating a view of human nature or any other phenomeon is to create a simplified model. It seems inheritant in the way people thing. The issues is whether the model is useful or corresponds accurately with reality.

Rands model of human morals is overly simplified, believing overly in self-centered achievement oriented focus as the key to happiness.
From: kivrin Date: February 21st, 2008 02:33 pm (UTC) (Link)
I wonder often how to find the balance between pretending scars aren't there (which would be harmful) and obsessing over them or over trying to protect them and begging other people to be mindful of them (which would also be harmful.)

You put it very well when you speak of pain as identity.
jenx From: jenx Date: February 21st, 2008 03:53 pm (UTC) (Link)
Buddhism teaches that suffering, while inevitable, is caused by our own desire. Discard the desire, and the suffering disappears. It sounds simple, and so patronizing - when you're suffering, it seems a precious, important, monumental thing. How can it be tossed away? What if I forget how this feels? What if I forget what got me to this place? If I don't suffer for this, was the rest of it all in vain?

It doesn't *have* to hurt. The lessons have all been learned, we just can't see them through the pain. So we keep stumbling through it, wondering when the revelations will come - when we carry those answers with us, wrapped in our own anguish, a gift for ourselves that we can't bear to unwrap.

It's not the wrapping that's important - it's the gift.
onemorethanten From: onemorethanten Date: February 21st, 2008 05:25 pm (UTC) (Link)

Past hurts, even scaring ones shouldn't rule us.

I find the imagery that the veil you hide yourself in then colors everything you see... as quite melancholy.
And there is a time and place for melancholy, but...

Here's a related but less dramatic quote that has always provided a picture in my mind of what happens when you let past hurts limit you...

"We should be careful to get out of an experience
only the wisdom that is in it - and stop there;
lest we be like the cat that sits down on a hot stove-lid.
She will never sit down on a hot stove-lid again - and that is well;
but also she will never sit down on a cold one anymore."
~Mark Twain

(not that sitting on cold stove-lids is any big whoop, but you get the idea...)

jeffreyab From: jeffreyab Date: February 21st, 2008 07:31 pm (UTC) (Link)
I get that she says to forget the pain itself but not what caused the pain.
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