Holding the Beauty and Bullshit

A week ago Saturday I went to bed with a stomach ache. By 1 am I was writhing in pain. By 7am I was hooked up to morphine and anti-nausea drugs. By 9, being wheeled through a hospital for a CT scan of my abdomen.

No one ever said life here would be easy.

And no one needs me to tell them that right now. We’re now almost two weeks out from Nov 8, but collectively we are still reeling, many of us barely holding it together, afraid that one mention of what’s happened will catapult us down that ugly, dark hole again. Things are heavy. Things are so, so heavy.

And we are human.

And being human isn’t easy. Any baby would tell you that if they could talk. It’s hard here. It’s broken. We want to walk and we can’t. We want someone to hear us when we cry and they don’t always. Safety is mostly an illusion. Nothing stays the same.

Why am I saying this? Because sometimes I feel like I’m not allowed to hold both. As if honoring the painful things in life can’t be done with admission that there is any good here. But there is good here. Life is good. And things are really broken. It’s always both.

My shrink tells me I need to sit with the pain more. I think he thinks I’m not giving it its due. But in my skin, in my skin and bones and brain — it hurts. My body hurts. I get physically sick. And the only way I know how to get through it is to hold tight to the good.

And the worse it gets, the tighter I hold.

They say we’re supposed to hold onto this life loosely. That things here are impermanent, always changing. I believe that and I believe we should do that. But I also believe that when the shit hits the fan, it’s our collective duty to not just duck and cover, but to clean up the mess.

And this is hard work.

And maybe it’s work we’re afraid of. Maybe we’re not up to the task. Maybe we know it’s work we can’t do alone, and that feels defeating. Maybe we need the help of a higher power and maybe that seems too nebulous. Maybe the nebulousness of it all makes us give up before we even start.

But wanting change, wanting things to be different, is a really worthwhile desire. And what else is there, but to dream of a world where there is no pain and to move towards it? We know what we’re dealing with and we know it’ll never be perfect, but perfection isn’t the point.

We can’t let our fears stop us from doing what we know is right. We can’t let hopelessness keep us from our true identities. We have to pick up the pieces and we have to work to put them back together. We have to acknowledge the pain and we have to choose joy because it is the only way through the pain.

And we have to do this or the ship sinks.

Please. I don’t want this ship to sink. I want — no. I need to honor the whole truth: that it sucks here and it’s astonishingly beautiful. That things are devastating and there is incredible joy. That we’re in the eye of a shit storm and beauty grows up through the cracks in the pavement.

Let it grow.