Like you, maybe, I have been hungry — so very hungry — for good news. I remember from back in my dieting days that there is a kind of hunger that makes buildings sway in front of your eyes, that makes your stomach and its acids turn inward, that swallows you. There is a desiccation, a sadness, and a desperation to that kind of hunger. It makes you brittle; it becomes difficult to imagine nourishment. In my teens and twenties I experienced this as a bodily phenomenon; lately though, over the past few years, I’ve experienced it as a soul phenomenon, an emotional one. The pandemic isolation, the buckets of bad news coming weekly, daily, hourly… Climate change, imperiled democracy, Covid, Roe, guns… Where is the reprieve and respite? I texted my best friend, also 41, and asked was it like this when we were younger? No. For all kinds of reasons (and at least for us) it wasn’t.
In an attempt to find solace, I’ve been reflecting on the most spiritually alive moments of my life, when the veil between our pedestrian, terrestrial concerns and the ineffable, cosmic pinwheel that surrounds us feels thin, when the goodness of the world, and of our very existence, feels undeniable even as it remains mysterious.
For instance: I’ve revisited the time, a few hours after my daughter was born, when I looked into her dark eyes, and she looked back into mine with sublime force. For about sixty seconds, I was keenly aware that she was both here, on the planet, and not quite here, not fully here. Some part of her essence still felt transcendentally elsewhere; it was as though she was deciding, right then, whether to say yes and join us for this tethered, earthly experience. She seemed to be thinking, contemplating you are my mother. It was ephemeral, vivid — a gut-punch of awesome truth. Then it was over, and she seemed to “lock in,” suddenly striking me as completely on earth, fully born. I will never forget it.
I’ve revisited the evening my mom drove me around the backshore in our ramshackle car, the white and gunmetal clouds parting to reveal bright sunset gold, peach, and cerulean blue, the water of the Bay dancing its rhythms and newly topped with flecks of glittering sunlight, the marsh birds and first stars alighting around and above us, and Beethoven’s Ode to Joy played on the tape deck, the notes glorious, and I thought, achingly, yes, in some form or…