Aren’t you just amazed at how incredibly lucky we are to be breathing right now? Someone I love is sick. I’m reading Joan Didion’s A year of magical thinking. I gave a granola bar to A homeless man and he touched my hand in the most tender way I immediately seized up. My daughter left for spring break with her cousins this morning and when I went to put her toys back in her room only five minutes after she had left, I missed her so much. It’s an emotional time. All of these facts are reminders of gratitude, of privilege, of every reason to be happy. I will hold onto them when I feel sorry for myself, on the long days, when the things I say in insecurity break my own heart. How beautifully lucky I am. It is in these moments of pain and realization of how fragile our lives are, that I really am most alive, most blessed.
Nobody will protect you from your suffering. You can’t cry it away or eat it away or starve it away or walk it away or punch it away or even therapy it away. It’s just there, and you have to survive it. You have to endure it. You have to live through it and love it and move on and be better for it and run as far as you can in the direction of your best and happiest dreams across the bridge that was built by your own desire to heal.
– Cheryl Strayed
Never discourage anyone … who continually makes progress, no matter how slow.
After great pain, a formal feeling comes –
The Nerves sit ceremonious, like Tombs –
The stiff Heart questions ‘was it He, that bore,’
And ‘Yesterday, or Centuries before’?
The Feet, mechanical, go round –
A Wooden way
Of Ground, or Air, or Ought –
A Quartz contentment, like a stone –
This is the Hour of Lead –
Remembered, if outlived,
As Freezing persons, recollect the Snow –
First – Chill – then Stupor – then the letting go –
– Emily Dickinson
bereaved: those who have had something taken from them
Your grief for what you’ve lost lifts a mirror
up to where you’re bravely working.
Expecting the worst, you look, and instead,
here’s the joyful face you’ve been wanting to see.
Your hand opens and closes and opens and closes.
if it were always a fist or always stretched open,
you would be paralyzed.
Your deepest presence is in every small contracting and expanding,
The two as beautifully balanced and coordinated
—on my seventy-ninth birthday
Nobody in the widow’s household
ever celebrated anniversaries.
In the secrecy of my room
I would not admit I cared
that my friends were given parties.
Before I left town for school
my birthday went up in smoke
in a fire at City Hall that gutted
the Department of Vital Statistics.
If it weren’t for a census report
of a five-year-old White Male
sharing my mother’s address
at the Green Street tenement in Worcester
I’d have no documentary proof
that I exist. You are the first,
my dear, to bully me
into these festive occasions.
Sometimes, you say, I wear
an abstracted look that drives you
up the wall, as though it signified
distress or disaffection.
Don’t take it so to heart.
Maybe I enjoy not-being as much
as being who I am. Maybe
it’s time for me to practice
growing old. The way I look
at it, I’m passing through a phase:
gradually I’m changing to a word.
Whatever you choose to claim
of me is always yours;
nothing is truly mine
except my name. I only
borrowed this dust.
– Stanley Kunitz