“I saw that everything has cracks in it. They happen along the lines where the energy flows. In the leaf it’s the stem and veins; in a canyon it’s the river. Everything has lines of power. And when these cracks crack open there’s like death and devastation. But that’s not so bad; it’s a whole new beginning. A chance for something even better!”
From Magic By Button
Wilfred Owen and Madonna have at least one thing in common. They both exceeded their apparent potential after suffering traumas. Wilfred Owen was an average poet until the horrors of World War 1 forced his genius to flower. Madonnas driving ambition, it is said, is a direct result of the loss of her mother as a child. Without exceptional talents she has gone on to change our culture.
One could argue that our western society is too safe. We’re not so likely to face the loss of loved ones until our parents have lived a full life span. Only a relative few are exposed to the horrors of the battlefield.
Coming of age Initiation rituals induce a crisis to symbolically kill the child so the adult may be born. In tribal societies these may take extreme & dangerous form and include bodily mutilation. In our society they are school exams. Though less dramatic they still take their toll in trauma and even suicide.
It is comparable to pruning a plant. A destructive process that induces stronger growth.
One would not wish trauma on anyone. For every survivor that has been to hell and reemerged stronger, there are many less lucky broken people. Most victims do not flower.
But the dark night of the soul is the prerequisite to initiation. Dante had to go through hell before heaven was a possibility.
Rufus Wainwright has described how he had to go through crystal meth addiction to produce his classic Want albums. Otherwise he was just the product of his safe middle class environment. Interestingly, his Mother, Kate McGarrigle has said she was never concerned about his fall into addiction as she was confident that his ambition as a musician remained his strongest driving force. Similarly, unlike most Junkies, William S Burroughs never lost his literary ambitions, even while trapped in his personal hells.
So dare I say, if you’re strong enough, trauma is essential to self realisation.
For further illustration here’s a cliché & a few quotations:
What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger
“You’ve got to lose control and then you take control.” Patti Smith
Solve et coagula