You ask why such things happen, why hearts break, and why we hurt each other. I don’t know. And anyone who says they know is pretending in order to avoid the tidal wave of Mystery that surrounds us. We are cast about as soon as we wake, every day, and this unpredictable surge, this sweep as soon as we enter the street, is something we crave and fear. I only know that this surge is sometimes disguised as surprise, and sometimes it covers us with a veil we call sadness. Now leaves are falling and someone is playing Brahms in the park, and the surge is rising in my throat to meet the music mixing with the leaves. I only know that this surge keeps reaching through me, as it has since the beginning. And that asking why never brings us closer. Now I’m coated with a thousand acts of care that began in difficulties that took place before I was born. Such nameless care comes through when we don’t rush to close. How I unfurl when my heart aches beyond myself. As in this moment, wondering if all that we feel is music just waiting for hands to play it.
A Question to Walk With: Bring three friends together. In conversation, have each of you describe a time when you experienced a sadness that wasn’t your own. Then, discuss the nature of empathy you experience it.
This excerpt is from my book, Things That Join the Sea and the Sky: Field Notes on Living.
*Photo credit: Clem Onojeghuo