Why is there so much pain and suffering in the world…?
The first time a child asks that question is about the time mom says No and means it. What’s this, something in my magical life I can’t have? I don’t understand! Sorry, sweetheart, It’s the first hint of a history of loss that will accompany you throughout your life. Loss — it’s what torch songs were made for.
The litany of smoky, blue-lit torch songs is long and complex. Count how many you’ve wept with ever since that perfumed summer weekend she, worse than mom, said No. Usually sung by the masters of pain and suffering like Judy Garland, Ella Fitzgerald, Anita Baker, Sarah Vaughn, Tony Bennett, Frank Sinatra, Rod Stewart and Ray Charles — there was ‘The Man That Got Away,’ ‘Cry Me A River,’ ‘But Not For Me.’ ‘I Left My Heart in San Francisco,’ “In The Wee Small Hours Of The Morning,’ ‘Rainy Days And Mondays Get Me Down, ‘ ‘Touch Me In The Morning,’ ‘I Will Be There,’ ‘The Look Of Love,’ ‘I Can’t Stop Loving You,’ ‘I Can Make It,’ and the torchiest torch of them all: ‘One For My Baby And One More For The Road.’
The Wizard was right — hearts will never be practical until they can make them unbreakable. As it turns out, they are breakable both in Oz and here.
How do we deal with this? The pain and suffering of loss is not only what torch songs are for, but also what philosophers are for. Let the record show that by the time a person graduates to philosopher, he or she is so old that the hormonal sting of losing someone’s love has mellowed. Not vanished, mind you, but muted enough to talk about as well as feel about.
In the event you are not that old or that philosophical, here’s some advice. Yes, let your heart cry with the torch songs for they can drain some of the pain. But no, never forget the joy that once came with that pain. As another torch song master, Ira Gershwin, wrote when in the thrall of love: “I was lad just to be sad thinking of you!”
Now if that conundrum doesn’t make sense to you yet, you’re not yet a philosopher…..
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