Hooey! When I was sobbing on my back step a few hours ago now, I sure couldn’t have predicted I’d soon be writing a little essay entitled ‘What a Great Day!’
I’ve been all over the map today; way down inside a miserable & extremely lonely pit, & now I’m soaring – feeling rich & blessed & grateful – & wanting to share it. Not the pit-y place; we’ve all been there; we know quite well what it feels & looks like, don’t we?
Just that we can be in a place like that – & it’s real, & it’s okay – & it isn’t forever. It isn’t the whole story, not by a long shot.
I’m wrestling with a broken heart right now. It hurts. Somehow, though, it stings a little less now that I’m allowing myself to say it. Regular readers of this blog know how big a fan of (Buddhist scholar, writer & long-time activist) Joanna Macy I am, & I recall quoting her saying, “We are not objects that can be broken.”(1)
So, I was busy telling myself I’m not broken. Now I realize that I am not broken; I merely have a broken heart.
And that’s okay, because that just means I’m human. We all suffer from a broken heart at times; at least, I believe that this is so.
Luckily, I’ve had a broken heart before, so I know that healing will come. Broken hearts do mend (at least, they can, if we will let them). It’s not a straight line or one-step process – it’s quite a bit more erratic & unpredictable than that. It comes bit by bit. (Note to self: I’ll have to re-read this next time I fall back down into the pit; I’m smart enough to know that will happen.)
I’m a big fan of Winnie-the-Pooh stories & I remember the one in which he & Piglet dug a Very Deep Pit (to catch a “heffalump”). I know I’ll climb out of my own Very Deep Pit (VDP for short). I’ll climb up a step or two, or fly right out of it, even – then I’ll fall down again (“fall down; go ‘boom’”) – then eventually, one day, my hurt from this particular injury will be mostly mended…& who knows? It may very well get broken again. There’s no telling, is there?
But here’s why it now feels like such a “great day.”
For one thing, it’s a beautiful summer day, & there’s a lovely captivating breeze blowing (this has been a rotten summer, weather-wise, so that’s a rare treat).
I drove home this morning from a nice visit with some dear, dear, very long-time friends who’ve known me since Hector was a pup (well – 35 years or so, anyway), & who’ve seen me go through a hundred experiences – good ones, “bad” ones, you name it – & it’s such a comfort to know people over such a span of years.
And I was having some thoughts about stuff I want to write, & feeling pretty sad (that visceral ache around the throat/heart area), & I got home to find several phone messages from women friends – dear, dear friends – who know of my VDP & called to see how I am, cheer me up, suggest a walk or a chat – & one of them had even left chocolate fudge in my fridge! Bless them/you all!!
Their kindness & concern & love brought on the tears (tears don’t come as easily for me as I might wish), & I wound up having a good, wrenching cry.
Then I decided I’d sit outside & read some Pema Chödrön. I picked up The Wisdom of No Escape & the Path of Loving Kindness, & her words were balm to my soul.(2) You don’t have to be Buddhist or even a wannabe Buddhist to find Ms. Chödrön’s seemingly bottomless understanding & compassion for her fellow human beings almost magically healing. You are not alone. Not broken – not a failure or a mess or hopeless or helpless – we are all just regular Janes/Joes with our associated…tendencies.
This woman is an unbelievable treasure.
Then I picked up Broken Open – How Difficult Times Can Help Us Grow, Elizabeth Lesser’s wonderful book, & her wise words about going through hard times & “long, dark nights of the soul” & times of transition, provided yet more balm for my soul.
These are hard, hard times here on Planet Earth. A person hardly knows what to make of it all; how to take it all in, how to digest it; what to do about it all.
The Buddhists tell us we are not separate; everything is connected.
This helps me understand that even my own pain & heartbreak – my anger & confusion & occasional despair – are not mine alone. They are shared by all of us. I am suffering with & for all of us. It feels as though I am alone; yet I know very well that I am not.
The more hurt & lonely I feel, the more I also simultaneously feel compassion for all of us. We all feel broken & broken-hearted, at least sometimes, but we don’t all know how to articulate that; how to go into it, own up to it – & where to go with it from there, from that place of seemingly impossible, unbearable pain.
For some reason, I’m constructed in such a way that I can “let go” enough to really let those feelings in (right now, anyway; not always). The “new” or recent heartbreak calls up the older ones, so I know I’m not just grieving for the obvious, current wound; it’s a lifetime-worth of “stuff” asking to be brought out into the light of day. Aired, exercised – &, over time, healed.
I have no road map or crystal ball for the human race. Or for any of us as individuals – even for myself, of course.
But I do love this beautiful world – the Earth – always will! And I am fiercely grateful for my circles of loving family & friends.
I’ve healed from heartbreak before, & I will no doubt do so again.
I don’t know where the world’s path (or my own) is heading, but I’m pretty certain I’m on the right road. And also equally certain I’m in incomparably fine company as I move along it.
I reckon it doesn’t get any better than that…
P.S. My spirits are vastly, vastly, vastly improved since I drafted this little essay on July 21st (3 weeks ago now), btw. Marcel Proust once said “We are healed of suffering only by experiencing it to the full.” No shortcuts, hmm? The only way to get “over” it is to go through it.
(1) World as Lover, World as Self – Courage for Global Justice and Ecological Renewal, page 96.
(2) I might as easily have picked up When Things Fall Apart – Heart Advice for Difficult Times; another treasure of a Pema Chödrön book…