Life gives us so many opportunities to experience its innate sorrow. Being alive as a human being is to know sorrow intimately, if we are willing to open to it, to allow it to take root in our hearts. Take root seems an apt phrase now that I’ve written it. Our lived experience sheds the seeds of sorrow, every loss, misunderstanding, disappointment, every illumination of our powerlessness. Every encounter with aging, sickness and death. With scarcity, chaos.
My life has been a paradoxical relationship with sorrow. There’s a way in which it has been my constant companion and a way in which I’ve treated it like an embarrassing relative. When I was a child, one of my mother’s constant refrains to me was “why are you crying?” As a college student, publishing my first poems, neighbors asked “why are they so sad? You’re always so happy!” I learned to put a happy face on my own innate melancholy. It took a lot of years, is TAKING a lot of years, to slip once and for all out of the mask, to come out of the closet and live freely as a melancholic.
Today, I’m feeling the juicy fruits of sorrow. The soil is moist and receptive. I feel pregnant with it. The seeds continue to fall–an email ending a particular sort of relationship, a conversation with my mother in which we trade “can you hear me? How do you feel? How is your weather? Thank you for calling.” It’s the lingua franca of our family for “I miss you. I love you. Are you alright? Are you still there? When will I see you?”
People come and go through the doors of our many rooms. They brush against us with the fibers of their Being. They leave their scent, their texture, “an impression” as Joni Mitchell once sang “of their loneliness.” And yet, and so, we do and we must embrace them and what they bring and what they leave. We must gather the flowers of every passing, every meeting. We must allow ourselves to rest in the bed of our sorrows.