It’s a Tuesday night. I put down the book I just finished, fluff the pillow my head is resting on, blow out the candle burning atop my bedside table, and look to my left.
I see my dog, just lying there next to me. She has no idea I’ve just finished one of the greatest novels I’ve ever read, nor does she begin to understand the period of mourning I know I’m about to enter.
Is there a word for the aching sadness you feel after finishing something wonderful?
I wish it could all last.
There it is again— the pounding reverberation within my heart, reminding me that I have just been a part of something wonderful, but that these experiences often cannot be sustained.
That I will often feel moments of perfect bliss and peace and joy and comfort, but that the lifeline of these moments are oh so short.
That I can feel unyielding, perfect joy, but that time will always thieve and conspire.
I am reminded of our use of “inimitable” to describe the nature of joy, and I think, “how right that is.”
I am haunted by these feelings. Questions I’ve always had re-enter my mind as I wonder how Life dares introduce such joy and wonder knowing it’s own limit of fleetingness.
How it can remind you of such beauty in it (and of human potential within it), yet reproduce unrelenting grief and endings, all in the same breath.
What fairness is in it?
I sit up, and begin to reflect (I wonder if reflection is a source of such conflict).
I think of being a child, crying my eyes out in my mother’s arms on every New Year’s Eve, revealing to her my fear of the passage of time and begging her to “stop the newness.”
Or at least, the clock.
I’ve never been good with endings.
How do you cope with the reality that there’s a last time for everything?
There was a last time you sat on your dad’s shoulders and there was a last time your mom tucked you into bed.
There’s going to be a last time you laugh with your sisters and there’s going to be a last time you hug your best friend.
There’s going to be a last time you feel exactly as you feel right now and there’s going to be a last time that person says, “love you.”
I don’t know.
For as long as I can remember, these questions have plagued my mind. I’ve spent years searching for answers, knowing deep down my most sincere questions will remain unanswerable, for life leaves so much to the imagination.
When I couldn’t find the answers and was left unsatisfied in my search for both fulfillment and knowledge, I settled for control— of my body, of my circumstance, and of my inner world.
When I couldn’t understand change or the way life forced me to grow, I settled for jadedness— a growing pessimism towards inevitable (and often unforeseen) challenges.
And when I couldn’t understand love and companionship, I settled for isolation— withdrawal and cold indifference, masked as comfortable solitude.
The crackling of my candle wick brings me back to my bedroom— a place I couldn’t have imagined, shared with someone I didn’t even know to dream of.
How life has changed me.
How change has gifted me.
I lie down.
I continue reflecting.
I am thinking of 2022, but I am also thinking of 2021 and 2020 and 2019 and of life until this point. Because what good is reflection with limitations?
I am me today, but I am also the “me”s of every day and every moment before today.
I close my eyes and pull my blankets up to my chin— something I’ve done for as long as I remember. Perhaps an ode to my former selves and who I have always been.
Today, I am grateful for Life and for every opportunity it has granted me to evolve— both in ways I desired and in ways I might not have thought necessary.
I am learning to appreciate change as the only constancy in life, without an overwhelming need to control.
I am learning to feel joy, without the worry that it will one day end.
I am learning to embrace peace, without the fear that I cannot sustain it.
I am learning to remain present, without imminent pressure to engage with the future.
I am learning to continue searching and yearning, without carrying the weight of unanswerable questions or the unknown.
No matter the questions, and in spite of life’s unknown answers.
I am holding so tightly every dream, goal, and hope I have for 2023, knowing that Life will lead me where I am meant to be.
Just as it always has.