The Uses of Sorrow
(In my sleep I dreamed this poem)
Someone I loved once gave me
a box full of darkness.
It took me years to understand
that this, too, was a gift.
(Poem by Mary Oliver)
It’s easy to be thankful for the good things. Health, a smile, a family, a lover, friends tucked in so many corners of the world.
What about the terrible things? The things that made me cry, made me spend all night tossing, turning, pacing. Broken hearts, shame, fury that knew no bounds.
This year, I’m thankful for that. For my temper, my pettiness, my fierce inability to just be still. For disappointments, for mistakes, for falling down more times than I can count.
What’s bringing this strange appreciation on? Well, today I went pawing through my old journals. I’ve kept one, more or less faithfully, since senior year of high school. One, more or less, for every year. I avoid looking at my journals.
While I keep writing in them and carried all of them from Vermont to Colorado like a jealous, possessive, paranoid lover, I avoid reading them. I’m ashamed of them. Ashamed of the things I’ve written, the thoughts I had, the mistakes, the whining, the way life occasionally blindsided me in my naiveté. I hate reading them.
Except, today I flipped through them looking for a poem I half-remembered copying down among the pages. As the sheets turned, worn out spines cracking, I read sentences, paragraphs, entire pages.
I surprised myself with my own tenderness, looking back not with disgust but with patience. I found poetic lines, honest struggle, bravery, and above all the sincere desire to do good. To try with all my might, even if my trying was misplaced.
All this newfound sweetness is probably due to being in the midst of a grand adventure, maturing so much in just a year, and overflowing with love. But, for what it’s worth, today at least, I wouldn’t change anything. Not a single line in any of those black moleskine books.
Happy Thanksgiving, y’all.
I’m several weeks late with my birthday list, I know. I know. I’ll post again soon. Promise. xo