I imagined that closer proximity to conflict and death would bequeath me with a handful of revelatory insights about life and being alive; that witnessing and feeling the fear of bloodshed and war would unveil hitherto undisclosed truths about this grand existence, this human ride, about my own mortality and finitude.
Yet, these protracted moments of embodied angst and uncertainty, of unpredictable unpredictabilities, of the gradual unraveling of life’s everyday patterns and routines, of the creeping dissolution of the illusion of control and the paling of personal and professional goals, seems to only piercingly scream out what the world was whispering all along:
That this human project that we belong to is oh so fragile and delicate
That family forever family
That what truly matters is being, sitting and sharing with those you love
That our part in this collective human ensemble demands of us to be kinder and more empathetic than we think we ought to
That memories are most of what we got
That we can mourn and grieve those we have never met
That the subtle sound of soil absorbing water is life affirming
That experiencing a baby laugh and a child giggle is life reaffirming
That sometimes we are blinded by sight
That cricket commentary is where it’s at
That being present is sacred
That “the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair”
That it shouldn’t be that one knows the weighted discomfort of a bullet-proof helmet or the cool metal grip of a loaded rifle
That decisions made by appointed officials should not infiltrate or taint the fabric of our personal connections
What is it about the human psyche and soul that a face-to-face encounter with our very perishability and transience is the necessary precondition to extend ourselves beyond ourselves, to reflect on where we place value and meaning, to remind us that we are inherently interconnected?
Why are moments of precarity, of the instantaneous crumbling of our taken-for-granted certainties necessary to awaken us to the knowing
that having people to count on is a desired measure of wealth
that there is more that binds us than we dare admit
That taking off your socks and shoes at the day’s end and wiggling your toes is an act to behold
That when your favorite song comes on, it sort of feels like enough
That there is freedom in enough
That there is enough for everyone
That the sun shining on your face is a sensory experience to be cherished
That biting into a sumptuous sandy nectarine is an exhilarating blessing
That we desperately need a more hospitable, attentive, nuanced language to re-imagine how we are to be with one another
That hugs, loves and snuggles are healing antidotes to life’s inevitable passages of time
That being able to ask your neighbor for an egg is the start of something
That “we lose our way in fear and pain”
That “’if more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world’
That it is both a luxury and privilege to age
As we stand perched at the edge of the precipice of our collective being, as we continue to navigate the ebbs and flows of this human endeavor, I viscerally recall Faulkner’s poignant inconsolable lament:
“Between grief and nothing I will take grief.”
Me as well..
Khalil Gibran. 1923. The Prophet. Published: Alfred A. Knopf.
Dave Matthews Band. 2018. Samurai Cop (Oh Joy Begin). Come Tomorrow.
JRR Tolkien. 1937. The Hobbit. Published: George Allen & Unwin.
William Faulkner. 1939. The Wild Palms. Published: Penguin Random House.