So often I fall into the obvious–the stuff hidden in plain sight–all the while wondering at the impermanence of life. As Geneen Marie Hauge put it, “how do we hold both the magnificence and tragedy of the world?”
Every day equanimity is exhausting, evening out our emotions rather than riding a daily roller coaster. At least, that’s my aim. I know it’s worth the work but still….
There are too many loose ends
in the world in
need of knots. You can’t attend
to all of them,
but you have to try.
Tayari Jones, An American Marriage
Knots are few and precious, often like trying to touch the wind, but how else evenness? I wonder whether it has always been this way. Again, the obvious.
My neighbor, Evelyn, avoids the whole knot tying issue by living elsewhere, mostly in the past when she isn’t trying to control her future. Her present scares her.
In the past, she knew how to grab one loose end after another or so it seems. I don’t doubt Evelyn tied her share of knots but no knot is forever and in the unraveling, she cannot find her way to a knot for now.
Evelyn and I spend hours with loose ends, some hers and others mine. She shows me the loosed knots of her life, her Iowa world, where a promise was a handshake, a good for life knot that did not undo after 40 years, presenting new possibilities.
At age 88, diminutive and determined, Evelyn is not interested in new knots. She holds one loose end after another, each a story of a partnership that has changed, and Evelyn is having none of it. She shows me document after document, paper promises of moments meant to last.
She looks to me, her cornflower blue eyes red rimmed but keen. She wants to know why the life she planned isn’t the life she has. How to hold the magnificent and the tragic. What to do with the forever of loose ends.
Maybe it’s stumbling upon the knots we do have. So many are hidden in plain sight. Evelyn still has a partner who loves her deeply but chooses to live separately. A new knot is possible but the old is undone.
Always easier to see the loose ends in another’s life and in that light, our own are revealed, the magnificent and the tragic.