The ancients are right: the dear old human experience is a singular, difficult, shadowed, brilliant experience that does not resolve into being comfortable in the world. The valley of the shadow is part of that, and you are depriving yourself if you do not experience what humankind has experienced, including doubt and sorrow. We experience pain and difficulty as failure instead of saying, I will pass through this, everyone I have ever admired has passed through this, music has come out of it, literature has come out of it. We should think of our humanity as a privilege. ~ Novelist Marilynne Robinson to a reporter who inquired about Ms. Robinson observing that Americans tend to avoid contemplating larger issues
I am reading another book about grief. This one is called "The Long Goodbye" by Meghan O'Rourke and is about her journey after her 55 year old mother succumbs to cancer. I have been reading books on loan digitally from the library on my iPad. I love that they are free and I can read in the middle of the night and not turn a light on and wake George (although I think he had learned to sleep through the light, it makes me feel better). I avoided this one for a while even though it was available because it was about grief. I'm not grieving anymore because I did that all before she died. LOL Yet not surprisingly I am relishing it. It reminds me a lot of Joan Didion's two books about her loved ones dying, very raw and very honest, which are two attributes I really admire.
Here's the conflict, grieving is not something anyone brings up around 2-4 weeks after the person dies. All mention of the person who died is gone, like it never happened. And most everyone who loses someone thinks about the person who died every day and depending on the intensity of the relationship every hour. Death is not dealt with well in this country and the author reminds me of mourning rituals which are completely gone. Feelings are not accepted as normal. As a society it seems whenever someone cries, they have to apologize for doing so and that is so unhealthy.
There are a few things that stand out to me from Ms. Robinson's quote and first is that we do not resolve into being comfortable into the world. I would really really like to reach a place of comfort but that is not what this journey of life is about if you want to live it fully. My journey to figure out how to lose weight three years ago turned into the journey of healing my inner self. I have been peeling back the layers to allow my authentic self to come forth. As I'm evolving, one of the many lessons is that THIS IS LIFE and you must hold on for the ride! There are magnificent highs, unbearable lows, and everything in between including utter sweetness that you wish you could hold on to forever and aggravations that you wish you could snap out of in an instant. The roller coaster metaphor is real. And my authentic self is one that wants to embrace it all, the highs, and reluctantly the lows. I am learning to examine the feelings that come, even the ones that make me want to hide with a kind embrace and not run and hide. I have to be open, and vulnerable in order for this to occur and this takes practice.
I am still learning that pain and difficulty are not failure but merely something that I will pass through. And during and after that pain, I have found many exquisite moments of creativity that I cherish. I either can write myself, appreciate someone else's writing, hear a song, or read some lyrics and be awed that someone out there felt the exact same way I did once. That is humanity and I love to contemplate the larger issues!