|The Sunshine Blogger award. So...sunshiney.|
See, I've been having a rough few weeks. Moving across the country has been much harder than I expected. I left behind a beautiful house full of art that I'd made, a wonderful partner, and a community of kind, creative people to come back to the Bay Area, because despite everything I'd made for myself in Massachusetts I knew it wasn't the right place for me, and I was homesick for fresh fruit and the smell of the jasmine and blue days full of sunlight that weren't soul-witheringly humid. And I thought that here would be the best place to seriously get to work on the Museum of Joy. I'd volunteer at the Exploratorium and learn a million things about how to make and run an amazing museum. I'd have contacts here, and family, a safety net. It would be a hard change, sure, but the right one! I didn't expect to find myself, a month out, walking around on the brink of weeping all the damn time. I didn't expect to find myself swamped so deeply in self-doubt that I'd actually consider moving back to the East Coast. I didn't expect to miss Kevin so viciously. I thought I'd be doing a splendid, adventurous thing, and it doesn't feel that way.
|The installation I built in my old place, and the wonderful gentleman who|
helped me every step of the way. I miss them both. Like real bad.
So the Sunshine Blogger Award came at an interesting time - a time when I'm feeling the least sunshiney that I've felt since, oh, my last really awful heartbreak, which was four years ago. But it also came hard on the heels of the post I wrote about my determination to start down the path to the Museum of Joy by beginning to collect accounts of other people's experiences of joy, whatever they may be - a post that has become the repository of staggeringly beautiful words, images, feelings, and recollections from those kind souls who have come and commented. In my own moment of doubt and fear, those words have been the most radiant and healing force imaginable. Each person who comes to share their experience is helping to say to me, yes, this is the right thing to do, no matter how scary it is: joy is what matters to you, and no matter how long and dark the path may be to get there, this Museum will be worth it. Because when people talk about joy they become poets; their language becomes almost accidentally piercingly beautiful, and their words fill with an intensity and honesty that is incredible to read.
(If you'd like to share your own experiences of joy - please! I would be grateful & joyous! plus it's for SCIENCE! - you can do so here.)
|Here's Rob. Like I said, a mensch.|
Hope brings me joy.
I needed to hear that, today. After everything Rob's been through, his writing about my post and his rediscovery of joy and the role in plays in his life, well, few people could have made me feel like what I'm doing might be worth it after all. Maybe it seems silly that I'm experiencing such suffering over something like a move when I've got people on both sides to love and support me, a roof over my head, enough money to get by. But suffering, like joy, is a funny thing - it pays no attention to perspective. You can suffer terribly in the midst of a seemingly pleasant life and you can experience joy in the midst of what seems to be enormous loss. Often it's some small thing that sets it off. I remember one of the deepest moments of grief I've ever experienced was seeing an old, probably homeless man on a bus hugging a teddy bear as tightly as a small child would; it opened a hole in my heart like someone had died, and the void of the universe came pouring through. Nobody I knew, or ever saw again, but the depths of the sorrow I feel even thinking of it are wordless and strangely, disproportionately enormous. And today, Rob's writing about what it meant to him that I called him a mensch opened up another hole, except that it wasn't a void pouring in, it was gladness pouring out, as if I had suddenly become a fountain or a well.
I'm not going to pass on the Sunshine Blogger award in the way the rules ask me to. That's because it meant too much too me, today of all days, that someone saw me as a source of warmth of light. Instead, I want to use it as an opportunity to honor Rob and one other blogger for their work in writing honestly, fearlessly, and beautifully about the coupling of joy and sorrow, finding light in the dark, and making meaning in the midst of suffering. In addition to Rob's blog, I'd like to honor The Death Writer. I am constantly amazed at how she takes a topic that fills almost all of us with fear, and writes about it with clarity, compassion, kindness, and sensitivity, not to mention a deep, profound intelligence and wisdom. To them, and all other writers who are doing the hard work of writing about finding hope in the depths of hardship, I send my gratitude. You are helping me more than you know. May you have as much sunshine with you as you need.
I'm going to leave you all with this song, which is haunting and heartbreaking, and as much about joy as it is about sorrow. ("Sun and Dark" is a phrase from another of her songs, and I can't think of anything more appropriate. She is amazing.)