This essayist considers how controlling our responses to tragedy can sometimes feel like gaining control over the evil itself. Yet, we cannot deny the need for tears, the need to express a fully human response to suffering.
Reflecting on the immense variety of ways that we rely on manual dexterity, and the intense and hidden suffering of those whose physical movements are limited by debilitating pain, the essayist juggles language with enviable skill.
Sometimes we only realize the unexpected and hidden value of our struggle with personal difficulties when an encounter with a fellow sufferer enables us to share the lesson we've learned, even when this sharing may potentially be rejected. The essayist feelingly describes such an encounter.
When the essayist's fashion sense gets the better of her common sense one bitterly cold day, she bumps into the hard outline of her mother's suffering as an impoverished child growing up in China. This essay reflects how its author almost literally walks in her mother's worn out shoes.
Suffering sometimes causes us to see the world, our world, through new eyes as the beliefs that had brought us comfort in the past are shredded by unexplainable pain. The essayist depicts one such loss through a last game of chess with an uncle sick with cancer.