White hot, blistering rage charges through my blood vessels. It crystallises into glass-edged, diamond-hard glistening shards that leave my legs hot and anxious and restless. Air expands in my chest. I am puffed out and breathless at once. I lurch from my bed and twitch open the curtain.
You would think that by now I know that the absinthian contours of the night garden offer little comfort. I stand, breathing in the scented, humid air and try to slow my racing, affronted heart.
Anger has been my near constant companion over the last month. As the world has put up its communal feet to enjoy a “festive” season I’ve taken umbrage. I’ve seethed and twitched and festered and grumbled.
“I don’t give shit whether you consider yourself a tourist or a traveller,” I’ve screamed at Facebook.
“Why would anyone put rollers in their toddler’s hair to celebrate Christmas?” I howled into the ether.
“Poor you!” I hollered, “No Wi-Fi on your tropical island? How could you possibly survive?” I’ve thrown my phone across the bed and flung myself after it with the grace of an over-eyelinered adolescent.
The impertinence that has driven me from my sleep tonight is an essay called Solace and its offensive little “think piece” end, which implores us (even if we have “the most average life”) to ask the “beautiful question”.
“You pompous prick.” I mutter.
Pain and sickness and death are not some sort of extreme personal development program.
There is nothing noble in watching your child’s blood pour, unstoppably from his nose. There is no spiritual credit for mopping up the tears of a frantic child who knows he is starving but can’t stomach food. Tending to the bruised wounds where a medical port protrudes from his too-thin chest is not meditational. There’s no grace in watching your academically gifted son struggle, doggedly through eleven pages of a book that previously he’d finish in one sitting. Even less in knowing that he is aware that this is happening.
This is not inspirational or poetic or worthy.
There is no beauty in asking myself a thousand, thousand times a day if this is chemo or end-stage.
This is horror. This is a vomit-streaked hell of anxiety and worry and pain and, yes, boredom.
Suffering is not a piece art available to the highest bidder. It can’t be a commoditised source of inspiration for the next round of spiritually materialistic lectures. It isn’t a step on the way to something more enlightened.
Suffering is just suffering. Pain is just pain. And neither can be merely average.
There is no beautiful question here.