Life Is Pain
Highness. Anyone who says otherwise is selling something.
There was a time when I and my sisters could quote The Princess Bride from start to finish. It remains one of my favorite movies, packed with eminently quotable quotes. Not to mention what remains in my opinion one of the greatest swordfight sequences ever filmed (“I’m not left-handed either” – at which point the first time I watched it this leftie was utterly stunned to realize that yes, all the fencing so far had been done left-handed).
It’s also chock-full of damn good advice for living and for writing. Take “Life is pain” – Westley/Dread Pirate Roberts is so right about that, even if the pain isn’t necessarily physical. Everyone, whether a character in someone’s book or a real person, faces challenges and risks as they go through life. Whenever you think you’ve got it sorted out, something jumps up and smacks you in the face with the knowledge that you’ve only managed to get a temporary handle on things, and only for a little while.
Personally, I think life just likes throwing curveballs at people and hides somewhere giggling every time one of us gets overwhelmed and starts panicking. Life, or Fate, or any of those other quasi-deific beings (or anthropomorphic personifications – I honestly don’t know what they actually are, but there are enough gods or demigods who represent various aspects of life and fate that deific isn’t something I’m going to completely rule out without proof). It’s just that the perversity of existence is such that it looks a hell of a lot like there’s a mischievous being out there having fun upending what people want to see happening.
In some ways this is a good thing. Whether it’s caused by quasi-deific personifications, malicious authors visiting hell on their beloved protagonists, or just a function of untold billions of random outcomes mixing with at least as many decisions, the result includes a lot of things that would never have come about if everyone got what they wanted and had a nice, pleasant, predictable life.
We’d probably still be predictably driving herds of large herbivores off cliffs if that was the case.
Because one thing I’ve noticed is that most people are very reluctant to change how they do things or how they think. It only ever really happens if people are forced to change, and even then they’ll push for the “good old days” despite said days being neither good nor particularly old – even when it’s absolutely impossible for those times and ways of being to return.
We can’t go back to pre-Industrial Revolution technology. Hell, most of the people reading this can’t go back to pre-Internet technology. Too much of the world has shaped itself around computers and being permanently online. It’s entirely possible that smartphones have shaped our lives around themselves much the same way.
Yet, we’ve grown with the changes, be they technological or something else. We’ve changed with them. Those changes may be good or not, but they exist. Modern culture is very different to the culture of the late 1990s, which in turn bears no resemblance to the early 1980s. I’m not going further back than that for the simple reason that once I get back around the 1980s I have to use external references rather than my memories and the touch points start getting a bit blurred.
Those changes weren’t easy. They hurt. Let’s face it, we humans can’t live without some form of pain and death, even if said death is only the millions of dead skin cells we slough off every day (yes I could go into a long discourse on the dead animal and plant material we consume but you get the point). Our bodies spend their entire existence constantly rebuilding themselves, and our minds and attitude do the same.
It’s not always easy. It’s often uncomfortable. So yeah, life is pain. And anyone who tries to convince you that you can get something without paying for it with some kind of pain is most definitely trying to sell something.