Pity

Feb. 4th, 2008 01:29 pm
vesta_aurelia: Fangirl your Armor (Default)
[personal profile] vesta_aurelia
"I am a pitiful man, indeed, but I do not pity myself, nor should any other woman or man pity me, for that is one step into mental enervation and even perhaps depravity - and I shall do more than adumbrating my darkest secrets."
-- Garrick Beckett 

Made me think about this thing called Pity.

Made me think about the people in my life who are going through their various valleys:
my friend MM whose husband died in Walmart just before Christmas;
my Rickman friend SF whose dad had a stroke and passed away;
my coworker SB whose husband is paralyzed from the waist down after an accident two weeks ago at his workplace;
and my friend MS, with his brain tumor and his silences.

I hear people say, "That's a pity" about those situations. And I wonder whether that's true.

As always, with words, I go to see what other people are using them for -- the way I use them isn't always the same.

I discovered something: Pity is a wierd word.
It gets tangled up so much, meaning-wise, with Compassion and Sympathy and Empathy and Care -- and, even, Love.

To me, Pity is a... supine word. It's a word that lays down and gives up. It's a word for things which cannot be changed, and for people who cannot create change. It's the word people use when they don't want to help -- they just want to have a moment of feeling and pass on. 
It's the word the intellect uses.

Compassion, Sympathy, Empathy, Care and Love -- those are words that are still standing. They're words that are actively involved. They're words that create change, or mark change. They're words that people use when they refuse to pass by, when they insist on being involved.
They're words the heart uses.

I think about MM, and her husband of 30 years, and I stop by her house and I give her hugs and I listen to her talk about him. And her fears about being alone now. And we talk about the importance of having a will, and a living will. And we sit on the sofa, with the cats in our laps, and ooo and ahh over beads and complain about the price of silver these days.
And I ask myself, "Is that pity?"
And my heart says, "No, that's love."

I think about SF, and I thank her for the pictures she and her dad took in Germany last summer, and we've talked about Dads, and what they mean to daughters and how they measure what we feel a man should be, in our lives. And sometimes, we cry. And sometimes, we swap stories. And sometimes, we chat about Alan Rickman and Bruce Campbell and Ted Raimi and we laugh.
And I ask myself, "Is that pity?"
And my heart says, "No, that's love."

I think about SB, and I tell her filthy jokes, and I apologize to her husband for corrupting her and he apologizes to me for her corrupting me, and we feed her llamas and I feed her chocolate and she talks about how they have to remodel the house for a wheelchair, and how great her husband's pecs are going to be with the wheelchair training, and we take walks around the building and put porn to shame with our gutter minds.
And I ask myself, "Is that pity?"
And my heart says, "No, that's love."

And I think about MS, and I send him jokes, and I hold this comb I have in its purple pouch and send energy, and I read up on tumors and extract info from that co-worker whose sister had the exact same diagnosis and look those years-they-say-people-have in the eye and say F_ck It. F_ck them. Let's do this thing.
And I ask myself, "Is that pity?"
And my heart says, "No, that's love."

I look at these people; I see their valleys and pity is the furthest thing from my mind. Instead?

There is pride -- look how incredible they are! Aren't they amazing?
There is wonder -- however did someone like that end up as my friend?
There is gratitude -- I have been allowed to see what people can do, what they can be. The human spirit.
There is compassion -- because someone who enjoys seeing their loved ones suffer is not right in the head.
And there is love -- the heart is too full, too brimming over, with all those things that Pity is not: joy, hope, compassion and truth.

If there is Pity in all this, it is aimed at myself: how could I ever match up to all the grace I'm seeing? 
Pity me -- for I shall surely fall short.

And then I, -- yes, I -- shall be the most pitiful, indeed.

Date: 2008-02-04 09:55 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ayeshadream.livejournal.com
Wow, just wow.

Thank you for this amazing perspective.

Date: 2008-02-05 03:22 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] irismoonlight.livejournal.com
*smile* That is lovely.

I hate pity.
Pity makes the person being pitied out to be weak.
Pity makes the person doing the pitying out to be "better."
Pity says "this can't happen to me."
Pity is denial.
I've been pitied and I've watched women pity others, and I've wanted to slap the crap out of the condescending ...*ahem.*

Not my favorite word. Might be my least favorite emotion.

Date: 2008-02-05 04:12 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] brightshadowsky.livejournal.com
You write beautifully; i love reading your reflections and they always touch me in ways i don't expect. Thank you so much.

Date: 2008-02-05 05:39 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] emelot.livejournal.com
That was very well written. I've never thought about the politics of that word before, the inherent superior/inferior roles it reinforces. I read your words and tried out pity in my head, and it seemed sticky and chill suddenly.

Date: 2008-02-05 03:18 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] laurelyn22.livejournal.com
i personaly, don't like using the word pity

Date: 2008-02-05 10:57 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Oh, good argument on Pity, but I kind of disagree. Words, regardless of definition have a negative or positive cultural taint to them as well. Pity has a negative one pretty much because one often has pity for someone when there is no hope. Therefore, any good and positive thoughts will have a certain hopelessness to them. You would see this if you ever have looked into someones eyes that was feeling pity for you. It is an entirely different look and feeling than love or compassion.

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