When I first held my baby I could already see the man he would become, tall, kind and strong. I saw our lives laid out before me; joined at the hip for years before being severed by age and distance. I felt the rush of bittersweet love, the love that says I see you right now and I love you right now because right now is all there is. I’ve watched him grow for thirteen years and loved every bit of it. He is a magical wonder, a joy in this world and his enthusiasm for life and living astounds me. What must it be like to be so purely in love with being? What must it be like to just exist where you stand without the bittersweet pull that says; this too shall pass, shall end, will fade into the shadows of time.
I’ve long watched happy people and wondered what it would be like to be happy while secretly hating the fakers for their fake joy; their grief hidden behind a fraudulent smile. Why lie, why fake, why smile when it isn’t real. To act out anything other than what you feel is to tell your soul it’s wrong to hurt, to grieve, to question or be real. Feeling isn’t wrong, it can’t be a mistake, it just is.
The bittersweet of living isn’t something everyone experiences. This universal view of our lives as tiny fragments of a greater whole is something reserved for just a few of us. So why? I wish I knew. Maybe the bittersweet perspective is born of hard history, singular loneliness, or pain so intense that to see the world as you once did no longer seems possible.
Among you stand the walking wounded, riddled with emotional bullet holes patched over with plastic smiles and empty pleasantry. It’s our jobs to heal one another, to be real and open in our kindness. It’s our job to see the pain and ask, “How are things going. No really, how are you?” and if they’re not ready to put aside the “happy” even for a moment it’s our job to be willing to wait.
P.S. If Thanksgiving tomorrow feels like a warzone you have to slog through then go to the beach, order pizza, have a beer and find a happy that feels real for you.