Madeline Diamont currently attends the University of Texas at Austin where she studies sociology.
“By daily dying, I have come to be.” This quote was authored by the late Pulitzer Prize-winning American poet Theodore Roethke. Taken by itself, this line from his poem “The Dying Man” can be interpreted as such: that only by suffering the woes of life can one truly become someone. However, this line follows,
“I bare a wound, and dare myself to bleed”.
Taken together, I believe the poem suggests that to become someone, one must not only suffer the challenges of life, but embrace them.
Roethke’s poetic claim rings true, that to “be” follows you being able to handle the struggles that life slings your way. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was one of the most influential men in the Civil Rights Movement. However, during his life, he was not universally idolized as he is today. In Birmingham, Alabama, he was arrested for his participation in a protest. MLK Jr. was on the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s most-wanted list. The man was constantly demonized by the government and a large portion of the American population for his efforts to bring racial equality to the people of his country. Even with these grievances against him, he still spoke his truth and successfully fought for the greater good. Though his life ended in a violent assassination, he brought light to America. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. suffered at the hands of racists and regressive ideology and became a beacon of hope.
It is easy to lay at the feet of the world when you feel that you have been defeated. You can scream at the deaf soil about your anguish, about the unfair hand to which you have been dealt. You can admit defeat, though it does not appeal to the proud soul; and so it shouldn’t. I am part of the population dubbed Generation-Z, the ones who have to deal with the world that the Baby Boomers have left us with and the preconceived ideas about us molded by the Millenials. We are just now coming of age in a society built on finger-pointing and blame-avoiding.
There is so much that we can do wrong in the eyes of our judgemental predecessors and peers that it is difficult to imagine that we can ever do anything entirely right. Sometimes, it just seems easier to lay down, curl up into a fetal position and cry. Cry about the piling student debts we are acquiring because we have been bullied into the idea that without it, we will never be successful. Cry about the dying Earth and feel responsible because we used a plastic straw at a restaurant, forgetting about literally the entire past century’s polluted carbon footprint. Cry about the ever daunting question of “What is my purpose in life?” when all you can seem to conjure up is to fix the mistakes made by those that brought us life, but cannot quite put your finger on where to start. It may be the simpler task, but how can we whine about our pain caused by the carelessness of those that came before us when a great deal of us are doing absolutely nothing to prevent our next of kin from filling our very same positions?
It is a constant cycle of trial and error; a cycle of getting wounded and daring yourself to feel that pain and possibly die that day. I only use Generation-Z as an example because, well, it hits closest to home with me. But this applies to everyone. Every day we wake up to meet the malicious grin of new problems and are faced with a choice: we can either throw up our hands and bow to its intimidating stature, or we can bleed. We can bleed and feel that pain, embrace it and wait for the scar to form so we can continue on with our lives and our mission to be better.
What is life without strife and doubt? It is not real. To live in a bubble where you can deny climate change, systematic racism, and genocide across the globe is no life at all. Granted, life is not pain. Life is not just this dark and gloomy storm that this article makes it out to be. Suffering can be as minimal as having a bad day at work. The variation of suffering in this world represents the variation of “being” that one can become. Stand up to the demons birthed by our blissful ignorance and spit back in their shadowed and cowardly faces with promises of light, or else your daily dying will always be in vain.
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