I remember as a young person often having this feeling of not wanting to get too happy incase something bad happened. It was a feeling of not wanting to settle into joy, lest a wave of grief came crashing over me. This feeling didn’t lurk over me all the time, but I do have memories of this way of thinking. Somewhere along the way I lost that feeling but never really thought about why until the other night when I was scrolling through Instagram of all things.
I came across a post by a writer and artist I follow called Mari Andrew. In her post, she was basically describing how often grief and joy coincide, how it can feel silly to do simple things when parts of the world are literally crumbling and burning. It brought me back to those feelings of never wanting to let myself feel too high incase something came crashing down bringing me to a low. She describes washing her face while a whole country is on fire and how dumb it feels to wash her face, but how dumb it would be not to do something she’s always done. Mari quotes, “The fact that suffering, mundanity, and beauty coincide is unbearable and remarkable.” You can see her post directly below.
Unbearable, and remarkable. The word remarkable means worthy of attention. How do we live in the tension that is unbearable and remarkable? How do we go on doing simply mundane things that living often brings when there is pain and suffering? I think what made me shed my fear of living with too much joy lest it be grabbed from my reach has been working for places such as The Dale. If you’ve read any of my or my colleagues blogs you would be witness to this tension that we often find ourselves in. We are often holding the hands of grief and joy at the very same time, while living in the mundane – cleaning, grocery shopping, cooking, writing.
I think I’ve learned that we are resilient. That my friends are so remarkable, that they could live in such unbearable pain and still be capable of showing unconditional love. That life really must go on. That there has to be more than getting stuck in the grief. That I could be painting alongside someone one day, and they could be dead the next. That my friend could be feeding her cats in her apartment one day and be homeless the next. That someone could show explosive and violent anger one day, and tell me they love me the next. Obviously “the next” often takes time. But my point being that I’ve seen what its like to hold joy with someone and have it be ripped away. I’ve also seen those same people get up and keep walking. How remarkable. How worthy of attention.
Today there was a homeless memorial outside the Eaton Centre at the Church of the Holy Trinity, as there is every second Tuesday of the month. Today marked the 1000th name being added to the list of people who have died from homelessness in Toronto. My friends names are on that list. There was a vigil for them while on the other side of a wall people did their shopping… living in the mundane between grief and joy.
My husband gathered with our communities, our co-workers, our city – to hold vigil and remember our friends who died. And I was at home feeding our sweet baby. This is such a prime example of living in the mundane between unbearable and remarkable. How I wish I could have been there. How I wish my friends didn’t die. How I wish I could hold my baby every day of my life, and somehow still be at work with my people doing what I know I was called to do. I miss it and I am cherishing this time at home. How do we learn to live in these tensions? This is a lesson I am learning every day.
How unbearable it feels sometimes to be so close to grief. And how remarkable that we can still hold hands with joy. I challenge you to look for ways you live in tension this week, and be present to that. Peace to you.
These thoughts have been heavy on my heart that past couple days while I’ve tried to figure out how to write them down. I thought a lot about how I wanted to be back in this space for the first time since Charlotte was born sharing my thoughts with you all, and I’m not sure exactly how I wanted it to look. Maybe a little lighter? But this is life. We live in joy and in sorrow. I hope to share with you all soon a little more about our baby and how we are doing. Thank you for being patient with me while I learn how to Mom. I’ve missed you.