sorrow & joy


I took these photos last Monday, November 11, on my parents' 68th wedding anniversary.  That evening my mom suffered a stroke.  She was in the hospital for three days, and last week was a fog of hospital visits, talking about and looking at possible future events/solutions, and trying to be there as much as possible to make sure my dad was okay, too.  But, thankfully, there were no lingering effects (joy!).  My mom has had more and more physical issues in recent years; for her to get through and past this is such a blessing.  We are so grateful she is back home again.  

As much as I miss and long for home, I'm so glad we are here with my folks and other family for the next few years.  I'm not afraid of aging, or my own death, but it is with dread that I see my parents aging.  Perhaps I am being overly dramatic - that would be of no surprise to anyone - but I'm angry and sorrowful at the heartlessness of time.

For all my talk about increasing my reading lately, I've really failed in that effort.  It seems I am quite easily distracted by other things.  But Friday I went to the library and picked up several books, one of which was The Book of Delights by Ross Gay, and last night just before turning out the light I read this beautiful piece, a part of the essay Joy Is Such A Human Madness:

What if we joined our wildernesses together?  

And what if the wilderness - perhaps the densest wild in there - thickets, bogs, swamps, uncrossable ravines, and rivers (have I made the metaphor clear?) - is our sorrow?  Or, to use Smith's term, the "intolerable."  It astonishes me sometimes - no, often - how every person I get to know - everyone, regardless of everything, by which I mean everything - lives with some profound personal sorrow.  Brother addicted.  Dad died in surgery.  Rejected by their family.  Cancer came back.  Evicted.  Fetus not okay.  Everyone, regardless, always, of everything.  Not to mention the existential sorrow we all might be afflicted with, which is that we, and what we love, will soon be annihilated.  Which sounds more dramatic than it might.  Let me just say dead.  Is this, sorrow, of which our impending being no more might be the foundation, the great wilderness?  

Is sorrow the true wild?  And if it is - and if we join them - your wild to mine - what's that?  For joining, too, is a kind of annihilation.  What if we joined our sorrows, I'm saying.  I'm saying:  What if that is joy?  

(p. 49-50)

Read the OnBeing interview with Ross Gay here
by mlekoshi