I might be the only person I know who hasn’t watched Grey’s Anatomy…until now. It was only last week that I began on Season 1, Episode 1…and I’m officially in binge watch mode. After two weeks of putting more mileage on my car than I normally do in four months, with multiple drives back and forth to the vet clinic almost an hour away, several trips back and forth to airports and the train station, late nights and early mornings, saying good-bye to our beloved Ben, attending a retreat in Connecticut and a concert in Boston, along with the normal day to day workings of my life, I am home alone for an entire day without any commitments. And I am binge watching Grey’s Anatomy.
Season 2, and Cristina brought me to my knees. A tough, ambitious, driven surgical resident who shows no emotion other her unbounded passion for surgical opportunities, she collapsed from the complications of an ectopic pregnancy and undergoes surgery. During her recovery she finally breaks down, crying uncontrollably. She is so distraught because she can’t stop crying…she NEVER allows herself to cry. Kneeling at the end of her bed she screams at her resident friends to, “Make it stop!!! Sedate me or something!!!” I was ugly crying, and somehow vacillating between her agony and the laughter that I couldn’t contain, and then back into crying.
It’s the laughter of recognition that opens up an access to the depth of love felt in compassion. Cristina portrays her suffering brilliantly and reveals why it is we suffer. Her agony is not in feeling those emotions that are finally being released, it is in the incredible effort put forth to resist them. And don’t we often do whatever we can to avoid feeling the uncomfortable stuff? We see her later, lying quietly in bed with tears gently running down her cheeks. She had surrendered, even if just temporarily, to life as it is, and in the humbleness of vulnerability, allows herself to be comforted. I cried even more, at the sweetness of what was finally revealed, her humanity, our humanity.
What an intense reminder of how to stop the suffering we experience in life. Feeling our emotions as they are, without attaching a narrative or interpretation about the emotions, liberates us into the flow of life. It helps us move through what is here now and into whatever is next, it leaves our minds out of the equation and has us living fully in our hearts. It is living authentically. It is living courageously, walking the path that is life exactly as it is. It is how to stop the suffering.
Hats of to Shonda Rhimes for her brilliant writing, and to inspired directing and acting.