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Emails to my Therapist

The Necessity of Feeling Bad Sometimes

"The dear old human experience is a singular, difficult, shadowed, brilliant experience that does not resolve into being comfortable in the world. The valley of the shadow is part of that, and you are depriving yourself if you do not experience what humankind has experienced, including doubt and sorrow. We experience pain and difficulty as failure instead of saying, I will pass through this, everyone I have ever admired has passed through this, music has come out of it, literature has come out of it. We should think of our humanity as a privilege."

–from the wondrously fine writer Marilynne Robinson, in an interview in The Paris Review, as reported in an essay by Meghan O'Rourke in a column for The Week.

And I thought I was the only one who feels I failed if I'm unhappy. Apparently, everybody and their sister feels the same way. The logic for this faulty conclusion is clear: if I'm not happy, then I've been unable to arrange things the way I want them. Which makes me feel like a schlump. But what mortal can arrange everything the way she wants?

I like Robinson's approach much better. It's a lot less arrogant. And it could be a huge relief — if I ever entirely convince myself.

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Categories: creativity, self-management, writing

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