We wake up this morning, and open our eyes, and for whatever reason—whatever reason whatsoever—we are hurting.
Something has shifted and we have lost and we will never be the same.
Perhaps we know that we will not always feel this way, but for today, we’re feeling it and this seems like our only option.
Six months from now, we will wake up and today will not even cross our minds. It will not even cross our minds that on today, we felt some sadness and some inadequacy; we felt some fragility and some anger. We will not think about this day as bad or wasted, we will let it be okay that today we were hurting.
But dear, sweet us: may we remember today these things:
May we remember that feeling hurt is not something to be avoided. May we remember that we are here to accept ourselves when we’re hurting.
When we find ourselves today driving, sitting—not paying attention to anything but traffic lights and aimless thoughts—may we see the swarm of birds (if there is one) flapping in play instead of travel. May we watch their day unfold for them, and realize that they know nothing of our day and our thoughts and how small the world feels to us. It is not that they do not care about our day, they do not even know that it exists. Our story does not exist to them.
And yet, here we are, wrapped up in winter clothes, gripping the steering wheel, hurting and convinced that our stories matter—they matter, they matter, they matter, we must pay attention to our stories—the ones that flood in—the stories of what we want to happen, what we don’t want to happen, what people think, what we’re doing.
They matter so much that we are willing to ignore our winter morning, which is neither dismal nor perfect, but it is here, right in front of us—it is waiting for us to come to it and participate and just look at the birds gathering at the intersection.
May we start to re-evaluate—us, sitting behind this windshield—how we feel about stories, because to us, our stories are very important, but to the birds, our stories do not matter.
So which one is it?
In the scale of the universe, are we right or are the birds?
May we reach the conclusion that it is neither us, nor the birds who are correct, for all we are doing is living inside our perspective, and all they are doing is living inside of theirs. A perspective is just a perspective, regardless of its content, so there is no such thing as right or wrong or more valid or less valid.
When the birds see us through our crusted window, they do not see us how we see ourselves. They do not see our hurt—the suitcase full of thoughts we have shoved on the passenger seat—they probably just see a girl, but to them, they call it chirp, and this chirp is nothing to them.
And on the morning that we are hurting, where our problems seem just so big and important, may we have just one moment with a group of birds, one moment of releasing our stories—for we know they do not matter—so may we breathe a little calmer in our humility of releasing the thought that tells us that the story of our lives is so important.
May our stories filter out and may we be left with nothing but silence and bird laughter. A calmness.
May we find emptiness in observation, a respite from our heartache.
And we don’t need this to last long. This can be just five seconds, and then we can carry our hurt through the rest of the day.
In fact, we probably will.
May we consider that this entire moment, with all its hurt and all its thoughts, is exactly the moment that is needed, because we are only at page 66 of our story. We can’t see how many pages are in our book, but we know that eventually, whatever was happening on page 66 will be resolved. Someway. Even if the resolution is just that the book ends.
There will be resolution.
There will be calmness.
There will be life, just the same as it is now, just the same as it ever been.
Let there be a voice that croons down to both our ears simultaneously: it’s okay that you’re hurting, sweetheart, just live your life.
And then…we have to let it be okay.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Editor: Rachel Nussbaum
Photo: elephant archives