There is a song by Cheryl Wheeler, one of my favorite songwriters, that opens with this line:
Summer’s almost over and I’m crying and I don’t know why
I love this line because I feel these words. While it is true that August holds the promise of another beautiful month of summer, for me there is an undeniable melancholy about it. To be clear, I don’t mind that about August. I welcome a little wistfulness in my soul. But this year I feel it in a different way. There seem to be many people around me who are going through difficulty and sorrow and my heart feels heavy with their pain.
When someone we care about is in pain we feel compelled to want to ease it for them and make it better. There is no magic cure for other people’s pain just as there is no magic cure for our own. One simply has to feel it, grieve it, express it and move through it, but not around it. We can help, of course. We can be there and hold space for them. We can do small but big tasks for them. Listen as they vent or cry or lament. Stand with them until they can stand on their own. These all make a difference for sure, but ultimately the journey of sorrow is a personal one.
I do believe that no one is ever alone on this journey. It is personal, but never isolated. I find art to be a beautiful reminder of this. No matter what you are feeling someone somewhere has not only felt it but has written it, painted it, danced it, played it. The power of art to connect us astounds and comforts me. Our humanity is so vast. We have a countless array of feelings and experiences. For every single one of those, no matter how obscure it may feel, there is a piece of art that testifies to that feeling precisely. Someone else has been there too. We are not alone.
Of course this is true when you are experiencing happiness too! Your joy is all your own and yet the people in your life are there to hold space for your celebration, listen to your exuberance, congratulate your successes! There is a song, a poem, a movie, a sketch created by someone who felt just like that. You can bask in the company of many. Perhaps the words of Sir Paul McCartney better suit you this August:
I feel good, in a special way,
I’m in love and it’s a sunny day
Whatever path you are walking, whether it be difficult or blissful, may you recognize that you are not alone. Maybe no one has walked it the same as you but someone has walked it feeling as you do. You are not alone. I hope you feel surrounded by the love of those on the side line, of those reaching out their hand. I hope you feel the love of those you’ve never met who have expressed that feeling in their art to share with you as you walk along.
photo by half-blood prince