There has been a lot of bad news lately. On the same day, Notre Dame caught fire and we got news that Gilbert's kidney damage is continuing to progress and he will not recover.
I got that news and felt nothing. Except maybe guilt for not feeling anything. I just felt profoundly unsurprised. Why should anything good remain? Even the things that aren't currently dying or on fire will sooner or later be destroyed. Including myself.
After putting some thought into this, I started wondering if I am maybe not feeling as fine as I think I am. I used to be deeply emotional all the time. I cried a lot, but when I wasn't crying, I was often ecstatically happy. These days all of that feels kind of muffled.
It was such a relief slowly coming out of the waking nightmare that was my pregnancy with Jackie that I didn't complain too much over the lack of emotion. I'll definitely take calm over constant anxiety and intrusive thoughts. But it's been two years and I would kind of like to get back to feeling like myself, if that's possible.
But to know how to do that, I'd have to figure out why.
One possibility is that I am too busy and distracted. I have a smartphone now and I spend way too much time on Facebook. Am I hiding there from my feelings? Do I need to spend more time simply looking around me and enjoying the present moment? That might be so.
Another possibility is that I was so traumatized by getting pregnant with Jackie that I have been disassociating from my feelings. In which case I might need to somehow recover from that and deal with those feelings. I'm not sure how to do that.
A third issue came to mind today. I was at the park and I made a point to put down my phone and enjoy the beautiful weather. There were fresh green leaves on the trees which were tossing brightly in the wind. For a moment, I felt happy.
And then I thought: this won't last. Like dogs and cathedrals and everyone I love, it will be destroyed and no one will even remember it.
It just made me realize I have never truly recovered from the death of my faith. I relied on it to a degree I never noticed while I believed in it. I assumed everything was stable, everything was good, eventually every evil thing would be destroyed and every good thing made immortal. That gave me the ability to enjoy temporary pleasures and shrug off temporary pains.
"And for all this, nature is never spent
There lives the dearest freshness deep down things.
And though the last lights over the black West went,
Lo, morning, on the brown brink Eastward, springs."
I believed this, as a ground of my being. Is it possible to still believe the same if the Holy Ghost isn't brooding over it all? What if there really isn't such a place, where all the good things are stored up for eternity?
I don't see any of this as an argument for the existence of God. Why should there be, simply because I want one? If there is none, the desires of my heart are simply glitches, and there is no guarantee they will correspond to the things it has any hope of achieving. Maybe things just suck, you know?
I try to reassure myself that wiser people than me have found joy in their lives without religion. They live with and accept the fleetingness of all good things, they love people even though they're all going to die eventually, they build and plan and hope even though the universe itself will one day collapse in on itself. Maybe I just need to find the way, read existential philosophers, meditate more. Or maybe it's a matter of practice: maybe part of the task of being human is coming to terms with the hand we're dealt, and I spent most of my life not learning how to do that because I thought I was holding a hand full of aces.
I'm recording these thoughts mainly as a way to reflect on them. And I think it's helped some, because I teared up writing the Hopkins quote. But I'm open to ideas.