Pain Is Better Than Emptiness

I’ve come to real­ize that I cling to pain and yearn­ing because they give me inspi­ra­tion. They may not be the sole source, but cer­tain­ly a great deal. I always lis­ten to Leonard Cohen and Elliot Smith dur­ing such moods, as they have the abil­i­ty to inten­si­fy and deep­en the sad­ness.

I can tell it’s some­thing of a destruc­tive habit. It’s almost like I sub­con­scious­ly choose to dwell on things that have been resolved for the sake of some­thing to write about.

It makes me think of the last lines from King Missile’s song Ed:

Yes, this is the answer. This is the end­ing. I shall keep on run­ning, because a body in motion tends to stay emo­tion­al, and it’s bet­ter to feel. Pain is bet­ter than empti­ness, empti­ness is bet­ter than noth­ing, and noth­ing is bet­ter than this.”

Is this how I feel alive, a way of bring­ing sig­nif­i­cance to my life? Or is this the way I tru­ly feel, and I’m sim­ply a slow heal­er, and too much of a thinker?

Or per­haps the bet­ter ques­tion is this: does hap­pi­ness inspire me just as much?


  1. From what I’ve read over a cou­ple of years here, I think you are just as moved by hap­pi­ness.… it’s just more of a sur­prise to you. You are a thinker.

    Morbid morose­ness can be a com­pan­ion for a while, but for me it’s a device I need to make pain dis­si­pate. It does even­tu­al­ly. Wouldn’t it be worse if you con­tained it all and put on a tough shell?

    • I agree with your assess­ment, although per­haps it’s not that hap­pi­ness is more of a sur­prise, but less fre­quent.

  2. The ques­tion of bring­ing sig­nifi­ance in my life via pain is one that I often turn over in my head. I won­der if it’s sim­ply a skill that needs devel­op­ing like any­thing else — the abil­i­ty to draw inspi­ra­tion from hap­pi­ness and con­tent­ment.

    The painful mem­o­ries have also been my most pro­lif­ic. Inspiration is around every cor­ner and I find myself con­stant­ly writ­ing and think­ing. Though I’ve cer­tain­ly enjoyed the hap­py times in my life, the amount of cre­ative out­put dur­ing those times is rel­a­tive­ly small and I find doc­u­ment­ing these times of my life exceed­ing­ly dif­fi­cult.

    I imag­ine Goethe’s writ­ings would have been pret­ty bland had he not had his intense heartaches.

    • I believe it’s fair­ly com­mon that artists need to suf­fer to cre­ate. Sometimes, I get to the point where I’m so hap­py that I don’t “need” to write, though it does­n’t hap­pen that often. Sometimes, I won­der if I ever reach a state of eter­nal hap­pi­ness whether I’ll stop this blog com­plete­ly.

  3. It’s odd that I want­ed to write about this yes­ter­day as well, guess you’ve giv­en me the nudge to write about it.

    I’ve touched it before though, how peo­ple like our­selves are dri­ven by the state of our melan­choly. We seem to go fur­ther and faster being down than we are when we’re con­tent or hap­py. Maybe its because this is a world we’re used to rather than being hap­py. Or maybe it’s because this is a world we’re sup­posed to live in rather than one where hap­pi­ness is a state of life.

    Anyway, that much I sub­scribe to. That pain is one of those defin­ing things that makes me feel alive (also a jus­ti­fi­ca­tion of one of my more destruc­tive habits). And it dri­ves us, to feed on it, and to para­dox­i­cal­ly do what­ev­er it takes to make sure it nev­er touch­es us, or any­one else we care for.

    • I thought of a third pos­si­bil­i­ty to rea­son why we’re dri­ven by melan­choly. In some sit­u­a­tions, I work best under pres­sure. Perhaps it’s the melan­choly that dri­ves us because it gives us some­thing to work towards, where­as hap­pi­ness leads to (poten­tial­ly bor­ing) com­pla­cen­cy.

      Your final point is quite impor­tant, but it’s some­thing I nev­er real­ized. There have been many times when I’ve felt let down, with no one to help me, most like­ly because they don’t under­stand what the pain is like. We become care­givers, and make sure that those whom we love will not have to go through the same thing. Maybe it’s not such a bad thing after all.

  4. I pon­dered this ques­tion too recent­ly… I once noticed that if any­one read my diary when I die they would think I had a sad life of heartach and dis­il­lu­sion, with peo­ple that have hurt or pained me in some way… but the fun­ny thing is I only write in a diary a few times a year, rep­re­sent­ing such a tiny per­cent­age of my actu­al life… All the times I am hap­py, with all the peo­ple I real­ly love and have to thank in my life bare­ly get a men­tion in the diary!! (and I have to say here I am a very opti­mistic hap­py per­son by nature, who has had a great life!)

    I then came across this quote which I think real­ly answers alot… ‘a con­tent mind has­n’t much need to think…’

    maybe if we are not strug­gling, we are not over-analysing, replay­ing, and try­ing to fig­ure something/someone/some sit­u­a­tion out… we are just being in the flow… I think it’s as alive, but per­haps not in the mind, and its more sub­tle… (maybe con­fused with empti­ness)…

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