it’s only like work because you work at it

there are so many times when it’s easier to fall asleep. to fall into that deep, velvety pit that opens a gateway to the world of surreality, comedy, tragedy, terror and tears that are covered in a faint haze of memory the next day. it’s escape. it’s living who you aren’t quite. it’s like living in a movie.

i don’t want to fall asleep for this. it’s been scary, it’s been sad, it’s been harder than almost anything i’ve ever done. but i wouldn’t trade it for sleep. i think and think and think and think; sometimes my brain hurts, often the hurt is lower down. somewhere closer to my thoracic-abdominal line. a little line i like to call my diaphragm. sometimes it aches with the memory of the pain. sometimes it doesn’t hurt even a little bit and it’s like a scientist examining a foreign object, holding it with forceps and squinting a little at the unusualness of it all.

it’s also been better than anything i had imagined. it’s been fun, it’s been exciting, it’s been steeped in that quiet sort of peace that i call joy and that everyone else calls contentment. joy is a quiet, delicate little creature that will scatter at the smallest flutter of sheaves of paper. i go through periods where i tingle from top to toe for just long enough that i almost forget that i’m tingling. then i stop just long enough to remind me again.

when i was ten i hurt all the time. my legs made me cry at night because they hurt. we shout “grow up!” to childrenpeople like it’s an easy thing to do, but time made us forget that it aches and pulls and makes you long for advil and heating pads, and especially for your dad’s spaghetti. when i was ten and a half i decided that i liked the pain. not in a sick and twisty way, but because it was actual proof that i was growing. pencil lines on the wall don’t change day-to-day, hour-to-hour. i liked it in the way that it sort of feels good when a molar is growing in and you prod it with your tongue and your fingertips and you bite on the end of your pen to feel it more. because when you feel it, you’re know you’re growing. and if you’re growing you’ve got to be alive.

that’s the same reason i like the hurt now. it’s not constant, and the source of it changes from day-to-day, hour-to-hour. usually it’s from the same vicinity. but you sit down at the end of the day, take account of your aches and pains, and think of all that you’ve fought for and lost, all that you’ve fought for and won.

at the end of the day, i can’t help but notice that everything i’ve lost makes everything i’ve won that much more precious. in fact, i realize that i’ve had to lose it in order to win. some might call it collateral damage. but i really know it’s part of the balance. and it’s all about balance. it’s not music without the silence between the notes.

so i’ll wrap it in yellow silk, drop it in my pocket, and fight to the death for it again tomorrow.

there’s nothing wrong with working a long day, every day, for what you know is important.

and this is important.

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4 responses to “it’s only like work because you work at it

  1. i can’t imagine wrapping my pain in yellow silk.

    mine prefers red velvet.

  2. very beautifully written…and demands several readings.

  3. that was beautiful. i actually cut and paste it into an email and sent it off to a friend of mine who is going through a nasty break up right now. just before i read this, i’d sent her an email telling her not to beat herself up for crying about it. told her to look at the tears as a good sign that she was healing…”i’m dealing with it now so i don’t have to later” and then i came here and read that.

    several things in life can be analagous to tonguing a molar.

    thank you for writing that, miss h. feather.

  4. beautiful, this: “it’s been steeped in that quiet sort of peace that i call joy and that everyone else calls contentment. joy is a quiet, delicate little creature that will scatter at the smallest flutter of sheaves of paper.”

    and this diminuendo, this tying together: “so i’ll wrap it in yellow silk, drop it in my pocket, and fight to the death for it again tomorrow.”

    so beautiful, in fact, that i’ve developed the most profuse and scarlet nose bleed. seriously.

    it’s sentimental, but there are times when i think of pain, the recurring moment and memory of it merged, as a lock of hair put away in a cedar box. it’s revelation, then, lies in the manipulation, or manipulator, of the lid.

    i’ve run out of kleenex. i must go tend to my left nostril now lest i turn into emily freaking dickinson.

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