The “Pollyanna lady” (that is to say, I, Janet) awoke this morning feeling as though there was a huge ROCK sitting on my chest. I felt heavy. The world felt heavy. LIFE felt heavy.
I was not a happy camper.
So I made a cup of coffee & went back to bed with my newly-arrived treasure, the book Broken Open – How Difficult Times Can Help Us Grow, by Elizabeth Lesser. I’d encountered the book & read about ¾ of it a couple weekends ago, while away with a friend (thanks mucho, Penny!!). Arrived home & promptly ordered 3 copies. What a book!!
It seems downright magical to me how words can be such a powerful un-locker of our emotions.
Within a few moments of cracking the book (reading the entries in the last 2 sections, ‘Birth & Death’ & ‘The River of Change’), I was teary & feeling cracked open myself, & suddenly said out loud a thought I had not articulated at all before that moment, “I am lonely & terrified.”
Yikes! Until I said it out loud, I had not known I was feeling lonely & terrified. Lesser’s words/stories made me feel all opened up – & when opened up, seemingly, we can articulate emotions we didn’t even know we were feeling.
I’m not exactly used to feeling lonely & terrified – & I don’t suppose my personal circumstances or “reasons” for feeling this way right now matter in the slightest. We all feel that way, hmm? At least some of the time. It is the human condition, is it not??
Like you, dear Reader – like everyone – I’m just another “bozo on the bus.” “Bozos on the bus”(1) is the title of one of the essays in Lesser’s wonderful book, & I love how she helps us realize we’re all in tons of good company, being less-than-perfect, less-than-always-wonderful – that we all have foibles & insecurities, & that that other bus that supposedly contains all the “perfect” people, with their perfect bodies & families & lives?? – is nothing but an illusion. We’re all on the same bus – with all the other bozos. What a relief!!
Well. I got myself out of bed, turned on the computer & downloaded my e-mail (there was a work-related task I knew I had to do before going out for my walk) & learned from a good friend that Thomas Berry died two days ago [he died on June 1, 2009. The next post tells you much more about this very special man].
Thomas Berry has been one of my major heroes for some years now. A big, big thinker, Berry studied, understood & articulated the entire range of human endeavour on the planet – as well as grasping & articulating the Universe story from the Big Bang on.(2)
It certainly feels to me as though a very big light has gone out.
Which doesn’t help very much with those feelings of loneliness & terror, of course.
But I made myself go out for my walk,(3) went to my beloved Pine Point Beach, & sat by the river for quite a while in silence, gazing out at the water, the hills & trees on the other side of the river, listening to birds sing & the breeze rustling leaves in the trees. I let sand run through my fingers & I thought “Ahhhhhhhhhh…….”
No great insights, revelations or epiphanies. I had some quiet, sad-ish thoughts about the relationship that ended so abruptly nine months ago now – grieved some for all the related losses – & thought, again, “Yes. I suppose we are all lonely & terrified – one way & another – & yes, we are all just ‘bozos on the bus.’”
And of course, my sadness & my tears will not break me. They are real – very real – but they are not life-threatening, & they will pass.
And for now, at least, life/Life goes on…
p.s. Right at the front of her wonderful book, Lesser has the Anaïs Nin quotation “And the time came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” Breaking open, hmm? Joanna Macy has said, “The heart that breaks open can contain the whole universe.” Seems like breaking open is a good thing, doesn’t it??
p.p.s. Within a few hours of this “down in the pit” mood, btw, I felt restored to my usual (relatively) sane self. Moods really come & go, don’t they? Leonard Cohen sings in his song “That Don’t Make It Junk” (I have this song on his wonderful “Ten New Songs” CD) “I don’t trust my inner feelings – inner feelings come and go.” And they do…they do…
p.p.p.s. on Jan. 25/11: Link to a relevant, later post 'Lonely, Terrified, Near Despair: This TOO Will Pass.'
p.s. # 4: Link to 'Despair and Empowerment.'
(1) Lesser credits clown-activist Wavy Gravy with the "bozos on the bus" phrase.
(2) Thomas Berry co-authored The Universe Story From the Primordial Flaring Forth to the Ecozoic Era, A Celebration of the Unfolding of the Cosmos with physicist Brian Swimme. You will never go wrong reading any or all of Thomas Berry’s books…trust me! I’m particularly fond of The Dream of the Earth & The Great Work.
(3) Paul Dudley White, a physician who lived from 1886-1973 apparently said “A vigorous five-mile walk will do more good for an unhappy but otherwise healthy adult than all the medicine and psychology in the world.” I’ve long believed he was entirely bang on about that!