I don’t typically write when things are going badly. I can write when they are sort of rocky, but my instinct is to shut down my emotions and my pen whenever things get too difficult. But lately, I’m experimenting with staying in the pain and searching for words amidst it.
So…Five Minute Friday’s prompt this week is “happy”:
What words can I find about happiness when this week’s predominant emotion has been grief? Can grief and happiness coexist? Maybe they can in the brief moment after waking before reality dawns. Sunlight, a new day, then…she is gone. Really gone. Yes, still today. And every day I have left on this earth. That hopeful, relieved feeling was just a dream, often a literal dream that everything had turned out differently and somehow her life was spared. Tonight I will sleep and dream and forget again, only to wake and remember and have my breath knocked out of me again.
Is happiness different from joy? Can joy exist in any circumstance? I have heard such ideas, but they fall flat as mere platitudes right now. Both joy and happiness spontaneously rise up from within, and when every day is a heavy, constant sinking, bubbles of joy or happiness are trapped far below the surface.
However, grief does not exclude all positive emotions. Gratitude is certainly much deeper than happiness – it is deliberate not spontaneous. It gives way more to contentment than happiness or joy. Even as I lost a friend two weeks ago, have spent the last six months in a chaotic work environment, and have struggled for 1.5 years with a silent syndrome that has sapped my strength and stolen many days, these past weeks and months have included many things to be thankful for, including recent major progress in the work and health arenas. I SO wanted to write about these good gifts today, but “happy” is such a completely foreign word that I just could not. I am able to appreciate and receive these as good gifts, while dwelling recently in the emotional land of grief. Is this the meaning of Job’s words?…”The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” (Job 1:21)