Monday, March 21, 2011

A trip to the serious side...

Does it ever seem like when you are feeling at your lowest, somehow the weather manages to conspire against you so that even if you were to witness some joy-inspiring miracle, still a glance out the window would send your emotions plummeting once again to the depths of despair? This pretty much sums up the whole month of March for me. As we are on day 20 of the month, I keep expecting that my emotions will have to bottom out one of these days and start their bounce back. And in fairness, the last week has been better, the snow piles are shrinking to mounds of filthy ice and I even had some pleasant, sunshine-infused walks with the dog. But today has been encased in a gray, damp mist that could be part falling rain and part evaporating snow, suspended and confused a few feet from the ground. It seems like a good time to start reading some depressing poetry and contemplating the futility of it all. The grayness weighs on me and I can feel the frown lines on my forehead getting deeper. If I step back and look at my life, I can say that I’m actually incredibly fortunate; I have a thousand things to be thankful for. But it’s not really about me, this heaviness.

Yesterday I was thinking about the tsunami waves washing over all those millions of lives last week. The ocean freaks me out anyway, even on a normal day. Waves make me feel so powerless with water crashing over me then tugging at my ankles as it rolls back out again. I know it probably won’t drag me away but I don’t really know where that power comes from or what keeps it from tugging just a little bit harder. Mostly I think about this when I’m in the ocean with my daughter. I grasp her little hand in mine but still I am aware how easily broken our connection could be. While it would be devastating to see the water sweep your home and possessions away, so many physical objects that seem to connect us to our lives, it is even more horrifying to think about losing a person you love. It is too painful to contemplate all the sadness in Japan. Even more painful is the way their sadness is so familiar, just like what we see all around the world over and over again.

It seemed like a good day to take on the mind-numbing closet-cleaning project. The closet in my daughter’s bedroom is a finished space under the eaves of our 1 ½ story house so it’s spacious but not spacious like the walk-in closets on HGTV shows with room to lay back on your chaise lounge while selecting an outfit. You can “walk in” to our closet, but in two steps your forehead will connect with the slope of the roof. There is, however, plenty of low space to pack away boxes of things that I rarely look at but cannot bear to part with. I am not one who lets go of anything easily. I spent hours going through piles of girls’ clothing, toys, my own clothes and the occasional object that I no longer want but can’t decide on the most responsible way to remove from my home. This is not an uplifting job because it reminds me of so much time passed. I wonder if I spent that time wisely, did I appreciate it. When my daughter fit into this size 6 swimsuit, did I take her swimming often enough? When I look at the toys I can remember purchasing almost every one and I remember how happily I anticipated Martha’s enjoyment and then I remember the reality of how she was actually afraid of the toy and kept hiding it in various spots around the house. So many objects come into my life and then eventually need to go back out again. There seems to be energy and emotion invested into every one and where does that energy go once I let go of the object?

Maybe it hangs in the air, suspended and confused. There’s really no cheerful conclusion to any of these thoughts because, obviously, that’s just the way life is. Eventually the sun will do away with the gray mist outside, but what about all of that human emotion all over the world? My dog is so lucky. I’m pretty sure he never thinks about this stuff.

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