prelude: i am thinking about this concept tonight in the midst of my migraine. this post came as a sort of stream of consciousness, stemming from only the idea of "letters from pain". i'm not much of an allegory writer, and this is mainly unedited. take from it what you'd like.
i know i can be cruel.
it has been said that you are exhaustible; i am inexhaustible.
this is true.
but if i were exhaustible, you could conquer me
and there your progression would cease.
from me, you may gain bitterness
and perhaps cynicism
and you may put up many walls.
but you would lose the chance to gain empathy
and sincere humility
and invalidate any need to search for strength.
there is a parable* that has been spoken -
a man asked his son to push a boulder.
the son, an obedient child, pushed and pushed an pushed.
day in and day out.
still, the boulder did not move.
the son was determined and obedient.
still he pushed the boulder,
but to no avail.
finally, in a fit of ever-increasing frustration,
the son decided he was finished.
the boulder would never move.
a man now, he tread back to his father
weary, frustrated, but above all, angry.
"father," the son exclaimed, "this boulder will. not. move.
"day after day, year after year i have pushed the boulder.
still, it does not budge.
why would you make me push so hard, father, for an effort so fruitless?"
the father looked at his son,
his eyes also weary,
but wise beyond the years of his son.
"son," the father patiently spoke,
"i never asked you to move the boulder, only to push it."
his words were gentle but firm.
dumbstruck, the son looked away, the shame of misunderstanding flushing his face.
"but son", the father said, gesturing to the back window, "there's a different boulder out there. that is the one i want you to move."
the son's eyes flashed up.
this is the last thing he'd want to do.
yet he was still obedient, almost beyond his will.
without another glance at his father, he stomped out the back door
toward the second boulder, and pushed his shoulder against it,
almost in protest to prove he couldn't.
he was surprised when the boulder moved with less strength than he had anticipated using.
he looked back toward the window,
and saw his father,
a soft but knowing look on his face.
you see, his father had never wanted him to move the first boulder; that boulder was a training ground to gain the strength required for the second boulder. the father knew that if the son would have known that the first was never to move, he would never have worked so hard to move it. it wasn't the movement itself, but the effort exerted in pushing the rock that gained the son the strength to move the second boulder.
and so you see, i hold a use for you.
i am despised among most and am the downfall of many.
however, i am secretly the strength behind those who are strong.
only from fully exerting against me, the strength of pain, can they earn the strength to be strong.
*editor's note: this "parable" was extrapolated from an analogy my brother jonathan told me years ago. like many analogies he's told me, i've never forgotten it and it seems to come back at the most pertinent times.