Some are of the school that you do not let stress show. Everything is dealt with internally. Convenient, but it results in an internal life, which involves struggle. And struggling alone, with yourself, sometimes feels like the definition of insanity.
How do we deal with this when it comes? I am the only one who looks out the window in to the garden on our street. Just now, leaning far out the window, with a soft, misty rain in the air, looking at all the empty windows. The stone ledge beneath my hand is wet but clean, for once, and I notice the difference in mood of the birds singing in the trees and bushes. I can tell they are resting; it’s evening conversation.
And then again, just as suddenly, my comfort has become my insanity “Listening to the bird’s conversation?” I criticize. I walk the street all day, work all day, looking and waiting for the light that will guide me. Sometimes I see it, just barely, or feel it, only ever for a moment, nothing more.
I remember the first time. It came about as the result of a very nice childhood. To paint it any other way would be vapid. I was in Portugal, with my parents. The occasion was grand—there must have been money. My brother was touring with the symphony orchestra, and my parents were proud. We stayed at a hotel in a castle, with white and blue porcelain tile floors, and windows without glass. The room looked out over a fountain covered in flowers, gushing prettily. The air was mild on my cheeks. And I felt it. It was like my soul settled, and I was just a body, and I knew what I was. The relief was like god had come to visit.
I remember other times, too. On a sidewalk in New York City, but I can’t expect that place to be the cause of it; it’s just a statistical probability. I can’t really remember many details about the other ones. I think it’s because, once I felt it, I understood that place was not important. Goodness in a place what was important, and that could happen anywhere.
They happen from time to time, those moments, usually when I least expect it, although sometimes when I do. When the weather begins to get nice, when something good has happened to me, I expect it. It doesn’t always come.
If only I could hold on to it. Grasp it with my mind, keep it next to me, like music. Every authority I know of insists that it cannot be done. And I expect they are right. But still. To be so close and not hold it, let it fall apart or forget it, until you begin to notice it’s been a while since you last felt it. It makes life a harrowing ride, no matter how little happens.