In Hunted, book six of the Iron Druid Chronicles by Kevin Hearne, the Morrgian, Irish goddess of war and the chooser of the slain, attempts to change herself– to love instead of lust, and be amiable instead of intimidating. She soon realizes that godhood offers not only boons, but also restrictions. One of them being that she cannot make herself anything but what her worshipers believe her to be. She is incapable of loving. To gain freedom in the only way she can, she orchestrates her own death, letting herself be killed while she is protecting he whom she wants to love. The aforementioned “he,” Atticus, reflects on the loss:
She’d made life more poignant for the Irish. The terror she inspired gave peace its serenity; the pain she caused gave health its lustre; her failure to love made me grateful for my ability to do so, and I realized, far too late, that though I never did or could have loved her as she might have wished, I should have loved her more. (p. 301)
It’s an interesting thing to appreciate that which is bad. I’ve heard people wish for a life free from sorrow and pain many times, and always found it perplexing. It is comparison which makes something stronger. Without chaos, peace cannot exist, and vise versa. If we have no comparison, what is simply is. I have never been blind, and so feel no excitement for the ability to see. Likewise, had I never experienced disorder and confusion, I would never be grateful for silence and calm. It is very difficult for us to feel thankful for that which we’ve never experienced an absence of, or to feel regretful for not having that which we don’t know exists. All of this is to say that one should appreciate more rather than less. It is a wonderful thing to live a life which offers such a diversity of feelings and experiences, which ties back in to the Morrigan’s dilemma– the inability to feel an emotion which you know exists must be an awful thing. That doesn’t only apply to love though: sadness, anger, anticipation, disappointment, joy, contentment– each plays an important role in the play of our lives, and without any one of them, we would be incomplete. A person should never resent themselves for their emotions, and should always be grateful for their ability to feel so much.