The well feels dry this morning. As I sit down here I have no idea what to write. I’m supposing that just moving my fingers on the keyboard will prime the pump. It’s early fall, chilly nights, frost, northern lights, bright perfect days. I want to be splitting and stacking firewood, canning the last of the tomatoes, making the green ones into pickles, drying pears. I want to sit by the fire in the evening listening to the coyotes. I am filled with longing. I read somewhere recently that grief is the purest form of desire. Desire involves the acknowledgment that there is something you don’t have. Grief says not only that you don’t, but that you can’t.
When my son Tom was very small I found him sitting on the kitchen floor crying. I swung him up and asked him what was the matter. “I want some chockit canny,” he wept. It wasn’t the candy, exactly. I knew what was up with him. It was the sudden grief of discovering that you can want things you don’t have.
I find myself deeply afraid to acknowledge my own desire at this time. I am mostly blind. I have some physical challenges going on. These things leave me housebound. There’s still a visible world. I can watch the changing light, blued and chilled by fall/ I can see the mountains turning colour. But oh my, just to hike in the fall mountains, the air like a trumpet call, and just one more time to see great Orion lean up in the autumn night, bringing the winter in.
I spend time in thankfulness every day. I want for little. I live in peace and plenty, in a quiet little town tucked away in the mountains. I have food to eat, friends who love me. I remember this every day in my prayers. But I’m wondering a bit today if there’s another piece that needs attending to. The losses that come with blindness and other infirmities are stunningly painful. If I distract myself with gratitude, where does the grief go? Some days the gratitude string feels very thin, a single thread of awareness suspending me above what I don’t want to feel or know. As a result, my days are quiet and easy, but my nights are full of troubled dreams, and I wake myself crying or shouting with anger.
I feel that if I let out even a bit of it it will crack me, break me, that I’ll fall and . . . and what?