Do you open your eyes at 3 a.m. — belly full of responsibly raised animals, organic veggies, coke or any energy drink and appropriately dark chocolate, with omega 3s and Chinese herbs coursing through your veins — and just feel bad, sad, pained and scared? Wrapped in cotton, wreathed in the scent of peonies, their slumped sensuous pink heads bobbing in the gentle breeze on the vanity?
Who do you think you are, to feel this malaise, this dull unhappiness in the midst of plenty? You, who have never known war, hunger, earthquaking tragedy — how do you justify your anxieties and agitations?
We all struggle, every one of us, with much of it — the turmoil of the mind, the insult of the modern world, the indelicacies of aging. We lurch and writhe through the various prescribed stages — childhood, school, adolescence, work, family, illness, aging, and death. But we can find paths, or tunnels, through it and we can conjure balms and spells to heal and help. We are clever and adaptable, most of us, and we build the scaffolding of relative sanity into our messy lives.
Some days, however, it seems that the universe just wants to pick a fight. In your bed, in the middle of the long night, it needles you with pain, doubt, worry, and want. It reminds you of your failures and asks why you haven’t fixed everyone else’s wagon yet. It pokes at your most sensitive spots, seeking a reaction. And, because you can’t fight with the universe — it’s absurd! — you poke someone near you. You pick your own fight, a fresh engagement, to vent the steam of the unseen thing. It will probably be about something like money or sex or work or food — no matter, the harangue begins and the universe just watches.
It watches your ugly handling of its challenge, with your small mind and your tiny clenched fists. Watches you stomp and stew and miss the grand point, the big picture, distracted as you are by the circus of your own creation.
I have always wished for the grace to roll with these punches, to stand straight and speak clearly in spite of the vague, humming confusion. I admire stoicism, sturdy silence, and no-nonsense practicality, though none of that describes me. It’s a game that ties me up in knots, but I keep swinging away.
And so, I will scrub the greasy stove, throw food on a fire. I will feed people who may or may not thank me, depending on their relationship with the universe today — again. I will put roses in the bathroom and climb on a bike, even knowing that the bottom of the hill will feel like crisis and I will barely make it to the top, legs screaming and lungs heaving, because I can coast down the other side and gulp the June view and the scented wind smacking me in my blessed face.
Maybe there are no roses without fear, no fire without pain. Maybe there’s no June without 3 a.m. and crisis. Maybe the flea market collection of trinkets and crap that the universe dumps in your lap every day will hold a gem or two.
Maybe it’s all worth it anyway — even though.