I once heard an interview with the excellent Miriam Margolyes, where she was asked her opinion on the meaning of life. “Fun. And heartache” was her response. “That is the essence of life”.
I feel like getting a T-shirt with this on, as it rings so true for me. The fullness of life is deep within those words. Not one or the other at alternating times. It is possible to laugh your way through the funnest of times, genuinely feeling the joy; whilst concurrently experiencing heartache. It is possible to be in the midst of weighty heartache, and still find the fun and the respite of laughter. And the experience of them co-existing widens your heart. “Open wide your hearts also”, says Paul in the Bible. My naive soul used to think this meant achieving some sort of conquering-emotion wholeness state, and then benevolently and benignly caring for others without ever being rocked myself. I didn’t know that widening your heart means being emotionally punched in the chest repeatedly, yet still expanding and finding genuine cheer.
I believe if I widen my heart I will cry for others more and I am pretty sure I’d be a better person for that.
Making room for emotion. Expanding to be able to hold it. Being capable of feeling more and shutting down less. Knowing how to compartmentalise, and freeze those thoughts and feels in separate ice cubes for the duration that they need putting aside. But more so, knowing how to thaw those compartments and become a whole pool again. It’s mostly the difference between day-time Sunny and night-time Sunny. I could never write this blog in the morning. (Let’s be fair, I can never do anything much in the morning except blear incoherently).
I can’t control the thaw thing very well, or the freeze thing. Especially when I’m tired, thawing becomes a puddle of waaah pretty rapidly. Freezing becomes a mushy process where I can’t tell what is going on and wander along in a zombie like dream, and lose my ability to hear people because my thoughts flip around. There are a few people in my life who are masterful at calmly grounding me at these points. Thank you, I hope you know who you are.
I’d like to have a wide heart. To get bashed around by life and expand rather than contract. The fun part I’m pretty expert at. I like creating fun and mayhem and breaking the rules of what you’re supposed to like doing, as a grown up. I am such a willing audience for silly stories told well, for raconteurs and storytellers, and people who tell terrible yet innocent dad jokes. Life is full of the ridiculous, if you are with the right people and look around at what’s happening. Noticing the ridiculous is one of my favourite joys. Adrenaline and laughing go hand in hand. I bloody love it when you are so tired, and you don’t start crying, but instead everything becomes absolutely hilarious and you end up bent double and unable to walk. Sometimes I get stuck in that mode and I have to lie on the floor and squeak for a time. Those times don’t happen often enough, but as they’re normally when I’m so tired I have to hibernate for a month afterwards, that’s probably a good thing.
If you are one of the people in my life holding heartache at the moment, I am here to bring fun, and I hope I am also able to hear you ache. I am better at trying to distract and cheer up, but i can also try and listen and may try to dredge up a spoonful from the cauldron of advice. If you ever want me to pray for, or with you, I’d love that, as I’m a pretty firm believer that God is rather better than me at knowing what to do. I will need you to do the same back sometime, and my account is probably already considerably in the red with most of you anyway. I still need you too, and probably more.
Fun. And heartache. Check. Life in a microscope. Only possible when souls contain other souls.