Every day, I have to teach myself to smile again
If these classes were tested, my grades would be devastated
Regardless of the number of lessons, though
I return to learn
Learn that the constant background haze is worth trudging through
If to graze those sparks of joy—pure, unadulterated being—for just a moment.
The grooves of my mind don’t seem to have been designed for happiness.
(My head and happiness are two would-be-lovers that everyone says should get together, but they’ve never really hit it off or had that connection.)
I am not fine. I’ve never been fine. There’s sorrow traced in my veins. But I’m disillusioned with the idea of waiting for that to dissipate before I can revel, bask, wade in joy, love, being.
I have spacious emotion in me, but I’m clumsy with feeling. I became an adult as a child, and that meant numbing, setting aside pain to survive and attend to the emotions of others. I’ve tried to hide or fix my sadness to not depress others, and because it’d be yet another reason to be rejected. I tried to wiggle my way out of it instead of actually letting myself feel it fully, have it pass, and appreciate the depth with which I can feel. My sadness was wrong. Unwanted. And when sadness is a constant, labeling it as wrong and hating it quickly transfers into hating yourself.
Yes, happiness is water on a duck’s back for me. But I sit on the banks of lakes I know the sun hits. I can’t “choose happiness,” but I can invite it. Though I may never leave the sea, I want the tenacious hope of being able to feel warmth in it. The same capacity that allows me to feel the piercing algidity of the water is the same depth that soaks in the warmth of the sun’s rays so profoundly.
Yes, it is uncommon for passing comforts to set in me. But certain things tug at me and draw out a deep, profound joy. I’m willing to sacrifice the desultory pleasures to feel this. This type of joy—of music, the earth, language, connections, laughter—takes root in me. It’s the type I stick around for.
The only entity that has ever managed to reveal my “brokenness” as actually being deep wisdom is the majesty of nature. I recognize the breakdowns within me in the crumbling, decomposition, death, deterioration, and decay of the earth.
I’ve retreated to the mountains more times than I can count, not to escape my sadness, the intensity of my feelings, but to be held in them. To feel them in the arms of my mother—her spirit the ultimate comfort. She knows how it feels. She knows what it’s like to collapse. She gives a daily promise of the light leaving, but also its return. I don’t only go to her in the color of autumn or the bloom of spring. It’s all beautiful to me. The skeletons of trees are just as rich as the voluptuous leaves.
Allowing for the breakdowns—the despair, anger, sorrow—is the receiving of my inheritance from the earth. My acceptance of the dusk makes way for the dawn.
I am hurt and healing. Broken and alive. I am shattered and joyful. I am terrified and valiant.
Yes, I am often sad, but there are times when I can feel the earth breathe, and she makes me want to breathe with her. To keep breathing. And maybe I won’t always be afraid, and maybe I can be OK.
I had to learn to dance with tears in my eyes.
When streaming never ceases,
Waiting for dry ground is futile.
So move to the rhythm of their fall
The elegance of their flow.
Forests are going to grow from my scars,
Watered by my tears
Pouring from damp eyes,
In the sunlight of a smile.
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