“Everything I write was once real life.” – Max Blecher
I have referenced this opening line a couple times in my posts. The thing is, you can only truly understand it and appreciate it if you know who Max Blecher was. He was a Romanian writer who at the age of eighteen was diagnosed with spinal tuberculosis. He spent the remaining ten years of his life confined to his bed, immobilized by the disease.
Yet he wrote.
He wrote about what was once real life. His life. His story.
William Faulkner once wrote that a man is the sum of his misfortunes. I believe that some men can rise above their misfortunes. Some men choose not to be defined by them. Some men choose to fight, even if the fight breaks them in ways most men can’t even imagine.
Beyond a certain point, suffering is pretty useless, right? Worthless. You cannot buy anything with it. Most times, no one else cares. Most times, you are left broken with no means of putting yourself back together.
Or is it truly worthless?
I’ve always been a sickly, strange kid. Didn’t go out of the house much. I’d catch a cold even by staring out the window. I’d spend a couple weeks before Christmas, which coincidentally is also my birthday, in hospitals. A couple times I almost died.
I read. There wasn’t much to do. Then I began to write.
One of the things few people ever talk about is that you can get used to almost anything. I got used to being this. Sometimes I’d feel lonely, most time I wouldn’t.
The thing is, we’re all alone, but we all wish we wouldn’t be alone all by ourselves.
My family had quite a bit of money. I was supposed to take advantage of certain opportunities. I dreamed of studying abroad, of becoming a proper writer. Starting a business or assisting my father. Things were supposed to happen.
They never did. My father went bankrupt shortly after my eighteenth birthday. He had to sell almost everything to cover his debts.
Things went downhill for a while after that. Couple years. Medical issues, poverty, feeling inadequate, losing friends, depression, anxiety, and a bunch of other things.
Life can break your heart in the most creative of ways, don’t you think?
Some of you might be curious to know how it felt. You know, the fall. The whole from riches to rags thing. You don’t think about it as much as you’d imagine. When there’s nothing left but the fall, it kind of becomes a part of you. Days are spent wishing for better ones to come someday. Weeks pass like minutes. Nothing seems to happen.
So I wrote. Tried to find a job, no one would hire me. It was the only thing I could do. Didn’t require much, truth be told. Writing is easy, you know. You just sit at your computer and bleed for a couple hours. That’s it.
You rummage through your brain for things that hurt and you write about them. Or you write about the things that could almost have happened but never did. About who you wished to be, who you could have been if only…
Saddest two words in all Creation.
I believe that art can enable a person to overcome adversity in ways that almost nothing else can. Come think about it, art does all that when nothing else can. When everything else stopped working. When you’re not even sure your heart’s still beating.
Now tell me…
Is suffering worthless? Or necessary?