When I find myself likely to wallow in a sad or disturbing or otherwise unpleasant situation over which I have limited control, I try (not always successfully) to pull myself together in one of two ways: either by engaging in a sort of Schadenfreude fest in which I allow myself to make positive (from my perspective) comparisons between my own current pickle and the significantly brinier pickles of others; or by reminding myself that even if the current unpleasantness were to end in the most horrid way possible (which, God and the boy and my own moody Cancerian self willing, it won't), it would not spell the end of my world (despite initial appearances).
A river in a time of dryness/a harbor in the tempest
So I walk down Market this morning, iced Peet's in hand, and think, first, you must give sad and sorry thanks (always, always) for the fact that this street is not your home (an extreme view, but a useful and humbling reminder). Then I think, whatever you might lose now, you will always have that drunken night of donut soccer with Dave and Otis; those quiet moments of holding baby Ev, just up from her nap, in Mom and Dad's living room, and for a while it's just the two of you, her exceedingly pleasant weight in your arms; you and Sarah in laughing tears as you model her new underwear over your jeans; wandering around Nashville with Eric and Erfert, Tenneesse whiskey on the brain; lying on the grass with Dave and Jimmy at Kelt and Kristina's wedding and just looking up, forever up, and out, and beyond.
Is it so wrong/to think there's more?
Some Buddhist scholar (I'm blanking on the specifics) wrote an article in Yoga Journal last year in which he noted that it's folly to believe that you're either the cause of or the solution to all of the problems you face in life. It's a folly, I admit, to which I often subscribe. When I stumble, I spend what may be a phenomenal amount of time wondering what I could've done to prevent that stumble (even in those cases when the answer is clearly, 'Not much') and scrambling to right myself (and whoever else I might've taken down with me as I fell). But I think the lesson I'm missing in all of this is not, Why did I stumble? or How can I get up again? but How can I get myself on surer footing in the future? Because in this linear world, in which there isn't the chance for do-overs, isn't that the only thing truly worth learning?
You'll cry/believe me/come back
My head is full of words: imaginary conversations, apologies, strings of poetry, too many songs. But they can only take me so far. I can only plaintively quote Marge Piercy ('There is a turn in things/that makes the heart catch./We are ripening, all the hard/green grasping, the stony will/swelling into sweetness, the acid/and sugar in balance...') or Springsteen ('I'm no hero/that's understood') or Li-Young Lee ('Song, wisdom, sadness, joy:sweetness/equals three of any of these gravities') before everything becomes a blur, and I risk excess, and should just rest, allow some silence in, remember that it's either life or freedom from briars.
Whatever happens, whatever, we say, and hold hard, and let go, and go on.