even optimists get the blues.

28 Aug
Ode to the Holy Spirit, by Dawn Wicklow

Ode to the Holy Spirit, by Dawn Wicklow

I saw it from across the room and knew immediately it was for me. I am not into art, but this painting captivated me – the colors, the lines, the way it caught the light. I knew it would fit beautifully on the mantle in my living room (and really class the place up, too), and so bought it and prepared accordingly.

When it arrived in the mail today, almost shredded, I felt a deep sense of loss – the loss of a beautiful, original piece of art that had touched me so deeply, combined with the loss of a plan for brightening my living room.

It has been a few weeks of compounding losses for me, and this was the final straw. I broke down in tears. Tears for the loss of the painting. Tears for my spouse, whose uncle just died. Tears for my mother, who lost her uncle on the same day as my spouse. Tears for the loss that came just as I was posting my blog about ultimate optimism – one that has caused a disruption in my family’s plans for the future. Tears for the loss of colleagues – so many have died in the past few weeks – and tears for my colleagues who step up to midwife the grief of others even as they grieve themselves. And too, tears for how much pain and suffering there is in our society right now.

Because this is how grief works: one strand gets connected to another, and another. Where I might be able to handle one strand or even two without much disruption in my day-to-day life, when it becomes a heavy net of strands woven together, even an ultimate optimist can collapse under the weight and retire to bed for recuperation. Which is what I did.

Is this hypocrisy? No, not at all. Being an ultimate optimist does not make one immune to sorrow. We still struggle with it, just like everyone else. We get sad. We cry. We mourn. What we don’t do, usually, is get stuck there permanently.

I am in bed today, and maybe even tomorrow. But I know that as I process the grief, these cracks in my broken heart will heal. And in my healing, I will be made more loving, more vulnerable, and perhaps even more human. As Leonard Cohen writes in his poem “Anthem”

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.

Blessed be.

2 Responses to “even optimists get the blues.”

  1. christellsit August 28, 2015 at 2:50 pm #

    Oh, James, how can you write in the midst of so much sorrow? But thank you. You give we optimists permission to let down and take care of ourselves. Sending Love and a Warm Hug.

  2. Mel Pine August 28, 2015 at 3:44 pm #

    I think that we optimists are especially prone to the blues, because we see — expect — the beauty, as you dd with the painting. Bless you, Dawn.

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