The Infinite Sadness
Alone last night, in the den of my home, a converted bank barn from the 18th or 19th century, depending on which story you believe, I returned again to that Old Subject, the Death of the Soul, and thought of how its sting seemed not as deep, a surprise, to say the least, nearly three years after the death of my father and two years after the birth of my first and only child.
So I did the old trick, and thought, not about how I feel right now, but about how I will feel, when its happening, when I’m going, which is a euphemism, try again, when I’m ending, and I identified the emotion I will feel–sadness, a deep sadness at this, at not being with the ones I love anymore, and in it, in that feeling, I felt that this was an infinite sadness, a sadness that could not stop growing, a sadness that grew more sad the more one looked at it, a sadness so deep and profound that it becomes almost necessary to look away, but if you steel yourself, if you don’t—well then it grow and grows and grows and pushes everything else out of your mind and it is so deep and so real and so painful–
It seems like it would be enough to drive you mad, but it did not drive me mad, it just filled with me such deep and mourning grief–it felt like a dark ocean, cold, with me in it, floating on it, not drowning yet, but no land in sight, alone with my entire life, everyone and everything I love, and feeling pain and loss at losing every little thing, but most of all, the people–
I can understand why I would avoid that–
I think I avoided that even while I grappled with it, all those years ago–as if I was alone on some desert island, looking out at the dark ocean, but not in it–
Something on Social Media, posted by some water sign, a snippet of which I remember enough to ask the Digital Shaman–
It goes like this:
remember that you are water. cry. cleanse. flow.
The other elements have theirs as well:
Remember that you are Fire. Burn. Tame. Adapt. Ignite.
Remember that you are Air. Observe. Breath. Focus. Decide.
Remember that you are Earth. Ground. Give. Build, Heal.
Remember that you are Spirit. Connect. Listen. Know. Be still.
Other quotes about water, less trite:
Allons! we must not stop here, However sweet these laid-up stores, however convenient this dwelling we cannot remain here, However shelter’d this port and however calm these waters we must not anchor here, However welcome the hospitality that surrounds us we are permitted to receive it but a little while. – Leaves of Grass, Book VII, 9
‘All water has a perfect memory and is forever trying to get back to where it was.’- Toni Morrison.
‘Rivers know this: there is no hurry. We shall get there some day.’- A.A. Milne.
‘The deep waters of time will flow over us: only a few men of genius will lift a head above the surface, and though doomed eventually to pass into the same silence, will fight against oblivion and for a long time hold their own.’- Seneca the Younger.
‘The face of the water, in time, became a wonderful book- a book that was a dead language to the uneducated passenger, but which told its mind to me without reserve, delivering its most cherished secrets as clearly as if it uttered them with a voice.’- Mark Twain.
‘When you put your hand in a flowing stream, you touch the last that has gone before and the first of what is still to come.’- Leonardo da Vinci.
‘They both listened silently to the water, which to them was not just water, but the voice of life, the voice of Being, the voice of perpetual Becoming.’- Hermann Hesse.
‘Human nature is like water. It takes the shape of its container.’- Wallace Stevens.
‘I find myself at the extremity of a long beach. How gladly does the spirit leap forth, and suddenly enlarge its sense of being to the full extent of the broad, blue, sunny deep! A greeting and a homage to the Sea! I descend over its margin, and dip my hand into the wave that meets me, and bathe my brow. That far-resounding roar is the Ocean’s voice of welcome. His salt breath brings a blessing along with it.’- Nathaniel Hawthorne.