Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Joy, Storms and Sadness

There's no perfect balance; no prescribed fulcrum for the teetering boards that all of us are. Is there? We're all different woods, different weights, different spans of length.

I feel so much and so deeply, sometimes, it is actually frightening to me. There is such beauty in some of the feeling -- like Emily Dickinson experiencing poetry, "feeling as if the top of [her] head were taken off" when she read a great poem; like the overwhelming "high" I feel when I hear a profound moment in music. Sometimes, though, the feelings come in cold waves. Sometimes, they are like weighted lines tied to all of the sinking things around us. Around me.

Friederick Carl Frieske
"Afternoon -- Yellow Room," 1910.
Yesterday, I just felt so sad all of a sudden, and it wasn't out of nowhere. (Which is good.) I could name all of the weights pulling at me. They were not my problems, though -- they were the problems of others; or, rather, the profound weight of my connections to others. My boys, one facing high school, starting; one having lost his first girlfriend and my connection to them pulling at me; my worries over whether I am teaching them right; being firm enough or to firm to guide them into manhood...

Part of is was the book I am reading, Dead Wake, by Erik Larson, about the sinking of the Lusitania -- the sepia visions of history; the great ship headed out of New York Harbor; my fellow humans, dead and gone, stepping aboard and nothing I could do about it -- no way to warn them and save them from the icy water that must close over their heads. The profound coincidence of a woman who survived the Titanic who, at the last minute, canceled her trip on Lusitania because of sickness...

But, it all mixes with beauty. And beauty is heavy, too. It pulls your eyes wide open; it fills you with warm, slightly detached weight, like a third Scotch: my wife's beauty, which is so much more than just a face and a body that it fills me with storms; my sweet, simple dog, eyeing me with a desire for nothing but my casual notice; the warmth of my house...all balanced with the idea that everything is transitory...

I want to feel... I really do. But sometimes, feeling is like adrenaline: after a day on the roller coasters, the rides are just exhausting bacause the tank is empty. And sometimes, feeling is a joy that terrifies. It always leaves me exhausted, though. And sometimes very sad.


  1. What a beautiful post - my heart was full in recognition of those feelings. It made me think of one of my favorite quotes by Pema Chodron (especially the last part):
    "We think that the point is to pass the test or overcome the problem, but the truth is that things don't really get solved. They come together and they fall apart. Then they come together again and fall apart again. It's just like that. The healing comes from letting there be room for all of this to happen: room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy."

  2. Thank you! And thanks for that beautiful quotation...very, very true and it works for both the mind and the heart.