Monday, December 17, 2007

Holiday Blues

I’m listening to a choir singing Christmas carols, and I was for the ten millionth time in my life acutely aware of how much joy and sorrow are like the writing on two sides of a thin piece of paper. Hold the paper up to the light, and no matter what side you are looking at, what is written on the other side comes through.

While you might not be able to tell it from the common themes of many of these blogs, I don’t like to dwell on sadness or sorrow, or loss, or yearning, and unlike many people, I am not really depressed by the holidays. But I am more aware of the sense of loss which always accompanies thinking of people once so important to me who are no longer part of my life. It is precisely because I realize just how blessed I am to have had so much love and happiness in my life that holiday reminders of their importance heightens the sense of their loss.

In a way, love is a form of emotional blood, flowing back and forth between the one loving and the one loved. But when a loved one dies, the effect is not unlike a physical amputation. The heart keeps pumping, and we create an emotional tourniquet keep us from bleeding to death. And during the holidays, we tend to loosen the tourniquet to relieve some of the pressure. The older one gets, the more tourniquets we must apply, and the more pressure there is to be relieved.

The older one becomes, the more these thoughts intrude themselves, however unwanted, on our lives. It is simply a part of life and something which must be faced and dealt with. To this day I cannot listen to “Silent Night,” one of my favorite Christmas carols, because it was also my mom’s favorite, and to hear it is to think of her, and to think of her not being here makes me sad. So when I hear the first strains of “Silent Night”, I simply turn it off and spare myself emotions I do not need and do no good. It's another form of ignoring reality, but it works for me. I just pretend that the holidays are just…well, days.

That we are never satisfied with what we have at the moment is, I’m sure, part of our DNA, for contentment and progress are not, at the core of it all, compatible. How much change have we each seen just in our own lifetimes, and how much more will we undoubtedly see in the time remaining to us is truly awe-inspiring, if we’re able to step back from ourselves just far enough to put things into perspective.

The purpose of this blog is not to reflect or induce depression, sorrow, or longing, but to encourage us all to step back, look at our lives, and appreciate the fact that all we have…all we will ever have…is now, and we should make as much of it as we possibly can. Sorrow is yesterday, Hope is tomorrow, and it is up to each of us in which direction we should turn ourselves.

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