A little more grief today that I usually enjoy...
It's not as though it was anything specific. Just a non-stop knot of sorrow, right behind my sternum. It seemed as though almost anything I saw, or heard, or tried to do, resonated with an old loss, or something more recent. It feels like someone is pressing the head of a claw hammer, flat against my chest, hard, and with no intention of easing up anytime soon.
Joan Didion wrote 'A Year of Magical Thinking', to anatomize her life after the sudden death of her husband, who died in the middle of dinner one evening. In her trademark, clinically detached prose, she outlined the bizarre behaviors she found herself indulging in -- keeping her husband's shoes, because maybe then he would come back, that sort of thing. What I found especially helpful, in this awful, intimate journey, was her appraisal of what she calls the wave nature of grief.
She says that, unlike a specific pain, grief waxes and wanes, ebbs and flows, seems to disappear, and then bubbles up again, without warning. Hanging around for as long as it likes, playing hide and seek with whatever sanity, or balance, or sense of direction is still left.
Sometimes, some things help, for a while. Today, for instance, I was almost able to slide past this latest upwelling, by trying to focus on finishing the new sculpture I've got to drive down to Millville on Thursday. Sometimes, when my hands are busy, it's easy to mistake the grief for indigestion, at least for half an hour or so.
But it's really still there, not only as a sensation, but as a weight, a burden that exacts a toll, the way carrying a forty pound bag of sand around all day might get tiresome.
And, as has happened more times than I'd like, recently, I find myself tearing up. And it's increasingly difficult to separate one source of sadness from another. I can't even tell, these days, whether I'm sad about something that's already happened, or about something that either hasn't happened yet, or something that never will come to pass.
So. Tomorrow, I must finish that piece of sculpture, regardless of how I feel about some of the choices I've made, in putting it together. I've got specific tasks set for myself, which often makes the process of completion a bit less unsettling. There are actually a few things about this work that I like -- I think the painted patina on the copper is quite lovely, in a depressing kind of way. Whether it all pulls together as a work of art remains to be seen, but because I seem to have lost all hope, I feel a kind of doomed freedom, to do whatever comes to mind, to remedy whatever might need to be adjusted or eliminated. My biggest issues, at this point, are the question of getting the contraption up the basement stairs and out the back door, and then into the van, for its trip south. Oh, and there's the issue of whether the thing will actually stand up when it's time for me to install it -- but I can always just wad up some newspaper to make the wheels level. Does it really matter?
Tomorrow, who knows? But why am I thinking of Nietzsche?
© 2013 Walter Zimmerman