For some unknown reason, I was weepy. It had not been a sad day, but a busy one. There was no cause on which I could lay the blame. Granted I had prodded the scars on some old memories, but they are long past and well healed. The dog, if I let her near the keyboard, would tell you that we had been having fun… a ‘mad half hour’ that extended throughout the early evening and ended in a laughing heap of fur and limbs collapsed panting on the floor… both hers and mine… and with a triumphant hound licking my face. The triumph being because she knows she is not supposed to and, as she was sat on me, she had the advantage.
I wasn’t feeling sorry for myself for any reason. I can’t even blame fluctuating hormones as they have come neatly packaged in regular daily doses for years. I had slept longer than usual. There was no reason for it. It was simply something that washed over me out of the blue and didn’t bother warning me or telling me why.
Pretty much everything I read from that point onward reduced me to tears, from beauty to empathy. I decided to watch a film instead. I chose a nice, safe adventure… one I have watched more times than I can remember. I know the book pretty much by heart too and it isn’t particularly sad … yet it had me dripping. Ani, by this time, was getting a bit concerned especially as even her cuddles set me off!
I gave up and went to bed a soggy mess.
The easy response is that there is, as we say in my home county, ‘nowt queerer than folk’ and it is true, we are an odd lot. Emotions can overtake us for many reasons or…apparently… none. But easy answers don’t cut it when you are lying in bed going back over the day.
In that meditative state there is no room for anything but honesty. There is no-one to see, no-one to hear, judge or impugn. Your thoughts are your own and there is nowhere to hide from yourself. So what had set me off? There was obviously something lurking there that needed to be disinterred and examined and, given the path I have chosen with the School, there could be no shying away from that.
The only thing I could think of were the memories I had been retelling. In addition to the instances from my own life upon which I had mused, I serve as a memory for my son for the missing period of his life and those memories are of a traumatic time. Had I touched some unknown sore spot there? I didn’t think so… not particularly… nothing we haven’t discussed before. The fact we can discuss them, given the original prognosis, means that there has been a miraculous resolution that puts past hurt into a completely different perspective that is rooted in thankful joy.
I was no wiser. Then I wondered about the cumulative effect of remembered emotion. There had been a number of instances recalled, moments of pain and loss that had cut deep at the time. You call up a memory and, to remember it in detail, watch it play out vividly on the screen of the mind. With that almost cinematic effect come the emotions you had felt. Maybe that was it, just an overdose of memory? There was something in that, but there had to be more to it.
I dug deeper and finally got there in the end. The memories themselves weren’t the problem, nor their attendant emotions. Unacknowledged fears were at the root of it, and yet, once seen, once examined, they were found to be groundless; laughably empty and without substance. No more than a reaction learned from a flawed understanding by a younger, more fragile self… one who believed that to love something you had to keep it close in case you lost it. And under that cold, damp blanket of false fear, I found what I was looking for.
It wasn’t pain or sadness that had set me off in the first place… it was joy; gratitude for all the wonder and beauty I have known over the past few years. It was the obverse of pain which is why I couldn’t find any; it was the lights at the end of the tunnels, the laughter after tears, the sunny days that follow the dark ones. These are not things you ‘have’ so they cannot be ‘lost’. They are not possessions, but gifts of the moment and all you can do is be open to them when they come… and it is enough that they do. They come into even the darkest times, as fragile and delicately beautiful as butterflies. To try and hold them would be the same as pinning a butterfly to a board. There is no need. They simply light up a life with their presence.
I fell asleep laughing at myself. There are worse ways…