I received a really good piece of advice last week from a wise friend. She said she had gotten it herself when she needed it and now I feel compelled to share it. I had expressed frustration at my inability to get out of my funk when she told me that it’s important, after experiencing awfulness. to go ahead and let our lights be dim for a while. What a relief.
The fact is, the last few weeks have been particularly heavy. Not only because of what is happening with my own emotions and those of my family after the fire but on a larger scale too. The mood of the whole country has been sad, angry, and frustrated. Those words were a gift to me and I have since allowed myself to linger in the sadness and not worry so much about letting everyone know I was just doing fantastic (I’m pretty sure no one who cares would buy that anyway). It’s an inconvenient and unpleasant part of the process but it really doesn’t pay to deny it. I’ve had enough experience with grief to know there are no shortcuts.
So this is some of what’s been going on here. I have one child who is experiencing quite a lot of anxiety and seems to constantly have some new physical ailment and another child who likes to pretend that she has no emotion and nothing bothers her. I’m not sure which one to worry about more. Of course, in my less than stellar parenting moments of which there are plenty, I just come off as extremely irritated with them which I’m sure is really helpful. Don’t worry, most of the time I can find patience and humor but thank goodness for dad, aunties, cousins, amazing friends, and future therapists. That whole takes a village thing is in full swing.
I miss my dogs like crazy and think about them every single night before I go to sleep and that makes me really sad. Scout would have turned a year old on Monday which added another layer to the sadness. That was a lonely day. I try not to dwell there too much. Instead, I conjure up extreme irritation over missing my walk-in pantry, my soaking tub, and our awesome easterly view. I’m clear those are spoiled person problems and temporary ones at that but it’s easier than focusing on missing my boys.
Winter’s hard for everyone to some degree I think. It’s the nature of the season. And, as I’ve so indulgently laid out my woes in the paragraphs above, I’d like to point out that I know everyone goes has difficult stuff going on. Maybe not right at the moment, maybe nothing as dramatic as a house fire, or maybe something even more traumatic like the loss of a close family member, but the day to day management of life can be exhausting, at best. So allow yourself to be quiet and dim the light for as long as it helps.
I have to end on a positive note because that’s just who I am, thank goodness. And, as always, thanks to my mom. She always called herself a Pollyanna. There are way worse things than being an eternal optimist and looking forward to a new day, a new season. I was surprised and more than a little excited to hear that we spring our clocks forward this weekend already. Another gift! Longer, warmer days work wonders.
One more gift… It was my mom’s birthday last week, she would have been 89. This prompted me to think of one of her favorite books, The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran. I even shared her favorite passage, On Children, with some dear friends that day. If you’re not familiar, I highly recommend you look it up. Today I went to my favorite bookstore, Roundabout Books, saw two of my favorite ladies and bought myself a copy to replace the one I lost. I think this passage is a perfect ending to this post.
On Joy and Sorrow
Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.
And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears.
And how else can it be?
The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.
Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter’s oven?
And is not the lute that soothes your spirit, the very wood that was hollowed with knives?
When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy.
When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.
Some of you say, “Joy is greater than sorrow,” and others say, “Nay, sorrow is the greater.”
But I say unto you, they are inseparable.
Together they come, and when one sits, alone with you at your board, remember that the other is asleep upon your bed.
Verily you are suspended like scales between your sorrow and your joy.
Only when you are empty are you at standstill and balanced.
When the treasure-keeper lifts you to weigh his gold and his silver, needs must your joy or your sorrow rise or fall.