Talking with a friend who spoke of tiredness which he thought was caused by the heat, I suggested that perhaps there was something more going on, something more universal. My experience of the moment seems to have components of wariness, a harboring of energies (meaning no willy-nilly expenditures), the sense of circumstances requiring us to be serious, viewing events from a Big Picture perspective and not becoming dazzled and distracted by the loud, lurid and trivial.
It is a time in which many of the people either close to me or close to those I love are trying to find their way through enormous losses. A beloved husband, mother, sister, nephew; a small, smart dog who was family; a vanished job; diminishing eyesight; a home forefeit; dreams of retirement and safety evaporated; gloomy medical projections that, while not actually here, cause sleepless nights.
And I don't imagine that these tales are unique to my community. That we are all in this together becomes clearer as we have a chance to tell pieces of the story as we know it. And yet...I remain, as I have been for some years, overwhelmed by our resilience, our ability to grieve and still congratulate a friend on some current success, the way we can actually weep and laugh at the same time, the skill with which we can plan and hope while watching something of irretrievable value slip away. We are all, on wildly varying scales, survivors of catastrophe; I don't know of a life that has never been touched by grief or trauma or loss. And still songs are written, cartoons that are actually funny appear in the daily papers, impossible cakes are dreamed of, baked and enjoyed, babies, weddings, new ventures and old movies cause us to smile.
For my 50th birthday party I made laminated pins, a pair for each guest's treat bag - a birthday without treat bags? No. One pin said, "The first 50 years are the hardest," which I have of course revised as time has passed. The second said, "In spite of everything there is laughter." I haven't changed my mind about that.