Strong rivers and swimmers

by Heather Vandenengel

I’ve attended a bachelorette weekend, a bar mitzvah and a burial in the course of a week and two days, and agreed to a lease, quit a job and messed my heart around. I haven’t slept or eaten enough, but I’ve danced or cried almost every day and thought about the rituals of being human, of love and death and growing up, of choices, of beginnings and endings and all the in between. It feels profoundly hard and unfair at times, like trying to swim against a current when you don’t even know what it is that you’re looking for upstream, and yet there are those moments of effervescence, of being carried along on the stream of humanity and love and kindness and connection that can propel us all, if we let it. As exhausting as these times can be, I can’t pretend that I don’t find a deep sense of comfort in feeling so much so intensely, that I don’t love being a human among humans, to have the chance to dig every time a little deeper to the “subterranean emotional world,” the river of truth and meaning, as Cheryl Strayed says, guided by the light of the question, “When are you going to start doing the thing that you know you should be doing?” I know it’s not possible or healthy to remain in this emotional state for too long, but it is helpful to dive in every now and then.  

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