January 31, 2020

Can love be separated from suffering?

Margaret Mitchell, 19

This short story explores the nature of love and its relationship with suffering. As a child, the narrator begins to contemplate these ideas beyond the confines of simply pursuing pleasure and avoiding pain. She desires to grasp onto beautiful, pleasurable objects and sensations, but finds that this leads to great suffering when that thing proves to be impermanent, like her sister’s silver bracelets. If this kind of love for impermanent things only leads to pain, then is it better to not love at all? When she finds that her fondest childhood memories cannot be recreated, the narrator is initially confounded. However, the memories still exist, and though bittersweet, they prove the possibility for immense joy to strike at any moment. Perhaps the memories will fade, as they have for Grampa, but beauty leaves a deep ache and this in itself is a sign of something significant and worth striving for, even at the cost of loss and pain. The narrator’s sister is no longer tangibly present as a person in her life, but the idea and memory of her constructs a lasting experience of love, even if the recollection of these memories brings with it a certain grief.

The Optimist and the Fatalist,