I’ve always claimed it bullshit when people say illness makes you better appreciate the beauty in each blade of grass. But it intensifies beauty. It makes your chest hurt and your shoulder blades feel like wings will split out of them. Your skin vibrates and you are keenly aware of every nerve. Every moment feels like a snapshot, yet full of life. Too full of life. It hurts to be on these mountain tops. The air is too thin. People say that depression physically hurts, but so does too much happiness. We’re not meant to fly so close to the sun. We’re not meant to twirl in everlasting circles.
It feels sometimes like I’m having to feel 80 years worth of happiness all at once in case I don’t have the time to spread it out. Who wrote that story about the afterlife, where you experience all your life events over again as discrete units — all your sleeping at once, all your bathing at once, all your moments of pain stacked one on top of the other? Sometimes life feels like this; this actual life.
If the peaks are defined by motion and explosion, lightness and light, the valleys are defined by stillness; woodenness. The chest does not burst open, but is heavy as though pinned by a boulder to the ground. As great as our capacity to feel joy is our capacity to feel sorrow. Someone said something like that once. And this sorrow is the price we pay to experience overwhelming happiness — happiness that is hard to enjoy since it leaves you so raw. I’m certainly in a valley right now, experiencing a little tristesse after three weeks of intense pleasure. I don’t even know why, really. My tumor markers came down. I don’t have to make any new treatment decisions for at least a month. I am going away. And still.
I read something recently about teenage girls or by a teenage girl that said essentially, I want to experience all the emotions there are to feel. I want to feel all the different intensities. And it made me wistful for those days of flat ground, when all that existed was horizon and sky.