Earlier this week, I was the most devastated I had ever felt. Sick with the kind of grief that assails without warning and cripples you; the kind of fear that leaves you without breath each waking minute. I believed I was a strong person until that sorrow struck. The world lost degrees of color, beauty, and humor, and I didn’t have a trajectory; I subsisted by the hour. It was unnerving how anguish debilitated me, and I saw nothing kind or fair or equitable about that sadness until I watched this video.
One of my closest friends at school was the one to show me this after I had explained to him what happened. I’ll always admire his consolation: how he listened without judgement and didn’t put words in my mouth. He simply showed me this video, and the gesture was 3 minutes of light in a personal darkness. It is entitled Misery is Wasted on the Misery and features renowned comedian Louis CK and actor Charles Grodin.
The video begins with Grodin asking Louie, “So you took a chance on being happy, even though you knew that later on you would be sad, and now you’re sad” to which Louis replies yes. Louis elaborates that “I liked the feeling of being in love with her, I liked it. But now she’s gone and I miss her and it sucks… why even be happy if it’s going to be this bad? It wasn’t worth it”. Grodin then turns to Louis and smirks, saying “Misery is wasted on the miserable.” Louis laments about how spending time with her and kissing her and having fun with her was what defined love. But Grodin counters that missing her is what defines love. That the heartache, the acuteness of pain and the despair is what makes love so worthy because it makes you alive. “But isn’t this the bad part?” Louis asks, to which Grodin says, “No. The bad part is when you forgot her. When you don’t care about her and don’t care about anything.”I didn’t want to admit then that pain could be a gift. I still don’t. To admit that feels like betrayal to my heart, an acceptance that self pity and sorrow are selfish. But in the days following what happened, I see more truth in what Grodin was saying. That love is the culmination of the past, present and future and not just the tangibility of the immediate; that in the midst of my grief, I am fortunate to have even had something as wonderful and larger than myself that demanded pain. It’s not to say that I now embrace sadness. I’d like to consider it a stranger rather than welcome it and I doubt this will ever entirely change. Yet I feel that in times of forthcoming despair, I may be able to recognize how lucky I was to give a damn about something in the first place.