Tag Archives: joy

The Question

An exploration of personal fear.


You must choose the one thing you can’t live without, the Universe whispered in my sleeping mind.

One thing? I answered. How can it be one thing? Should I hold out my hands and name them? They hold the pencil, the brush, the needle, the knife that make my art. How could I bear to make no art?

You could learn to manipulate different tools, explore new mediums that require a different dexterity, the Universe mused.

Right, I answered, but what if I say my vision? How could I bear to live without color? without looking into the eyes of those that see inside me, my truest friends? How could I give up my sight?

You would still see all the colors in your mind, your memory. You could feel the warmth of your friends’ love even before they speak. You know what is behind their gaze just as they know what is behind yours.

My ears? To never hear the ocean’s songs, the soft brush of the breeze, a blue jay calling, laughter, Beethoven’s Ode to Joy, my name whispered by a lover. No, I couldn’t.

Again – all those experiences are rooted in your memory, to call up and enjoy as you please.

Oh, no – not my memory- you wouldn’t take that. I would have nothing, no soul, no joy, no purpose.

You have named it, the Universe chuckled, but I don’t believe you know it true yet.

I felt the indigo blanket soft and warm and gently crushing colors blurred and ran to a brown sameness, echos of voices and laughter rose and fell until there was no meaning, until finally there was nothing, a velvet void.

I floated. A softness, like a whisper, wrapped around my throat.

“Who are you?” I asked.

The whisper faded, sliding down my throat, over my heart and I felt it move away, its echo growing fainter.



The weight of sorrow

Like everyone else, certain songs, smells, movies, TV shows, names, foods, streets, and people  trigger painful memories for me. Sometimes the sadness seems too much to bear.

I realize it is a part of human experience; there is nothing special about my pain. Still, when I am stuck in an elevator listening to my ex’s favorite song, keeping a detached expression on my face when I want to drop to my knees and weep, the sadness seems more intense than any joy.

Am I being melodramatic? Or does the weight of sorrow truly fall heavier on our lives?

My niece, a believer in the power of positive thinking, says, “Maybe it just seems worse when you’re going through a bad time because you just don’t want to be going through it.”

Good point. Resistance causes drag, slows things down. Simple physics.

I started playing music that reminded me of a time in my life when I thought I had it nailed, thought love would cradle me forever. Sometimes I didn’t last more than a CD or two. Other days, I’d grit my teeth and get through it. After a while, I found the music began to weave a tapestry in the background and my focus on the task strengthened.

Then, I heard a new song by a new artist that seemed aimed directly at me, at triggering those painful memories. The weight again brought me to my knees. The pain of my breakup with the man I thought I would grow old with hit me as if it were yesterday.

I don’t want him back. My pragmatic personality always wins out. He would never be someone I could trust, his words belied his actions. No, it wasn’t him I missed. It was the dream of him, of our lives together. I regretted what could have been, what I had believed was true. In fact, it doesn’t matter what did or didn’t happen to me. The sorrow is as real, and heavy, as a blacksmith’s anvil.

Is it possible to forge something strong and permanent from such a massive burden? I thought my emotional muscles would be stronger by now. Life doesn’t seem to work that way. Sorrow grows, like an oak, slowly but inexorably into a great and solid organism.

I stopped eating meat after watching videos of the casual, rampant cruelty in the corporate farming industry. Grown men kicking and stomping animals because they couldn’t defend themselves.  The animals simply had to endure. I imagined being caged inside my tiny bathroom. For the rest of my life, with random people coming by to torture me at will. Anger welled inside me along with the dreadful knowledge that there was nothing I could do.  I cried for the caged creatures and the humans who don’t care.

Maybe that is what adds to the weight of my own sorrow. It isn’t just what I lost, the missed opportunities and regrets. It is about the day-to-day sadness of casual cruelty. I know that it is part of the fabric of life and there is so little I can do. I don’t support the industry, lend my support to promoting awareness, and stop it when I can.

Maybe because of the lightness of joy, the ethereal quality of happiness, the weight of sorrow is what grounds us.



You swooped low to claim me,

All scales and claws,

Glittering eyes

And whiplashed tail.

We flew together

Into a velvet night,

Shrieking stars

And lightless moon,

Leaving my breath on the ground.

Too soon, too soon,

Your talons relaxed,

The fire you breathed

Toward some other

Lost and desperate soul.

I fell and fell,

Sharp night wind

Screaming in my ears,

To an endless,

Silent earth.


Joy sits quietly,

Waiting for an opening

Then moves swiftly

Toward the blue sky

Of the soul.

Joy is small, compact

Taking up little space,

Expanding as far

As the heart can reach.

Joy does not come,

It is already there,

Built in, only needing release,

Letting out the clutch

To race and soar

Over the next

And every horizon.