a snippet of sadness

“I hate getting up early, especially now. There’s nothing to get up for.”

Well fuck me Linda, you sad sack of shit. 

(Today, I agree)

I overheard this lady at the local dog park. It’s on a beautiful inlet in the heart of Sydney’s Northern Beaches where there’s a median house price of a cool $2.2 million. No doubt, she resides in one of them. Currently, so do I (yet I’m no closer to affording one of them than I am likely to go to Mars, although the latter seems much more appealing). 

It struck me as quite a depressing thing to say to someone you’ve just met at a dog park. I feel sorry for her, but I also feel like punching her in the face, and delivering her by hand into Yemen, Syria or Afghanistan just to see the reality dawn on her face. 

At the time, I just let the words float around my head and today they returned to me with a weight that I’ve felt before but never welcome back. I feel like drowning in the sheets of my bed and never being found again. Disappearing into the Himalayas only to resurface a few years later with a shaved head and orange robes to see who actually came to my funeral. Who said all of the things they wish they’d said to me in person before I died. 

I hate funerals.

Not because the person is dead. That often happened days if not weeks before the funeral and the grieving simply goes on. Funerals are for the living. I hate them because people stand up and pour their hearts out to a person that can’t hear them. They sweat, tremble and cry as they recall beautiful memories, lament time wasted and speak into the void. Call it closure, but I call it regret. I don’t believe in leaving words unsaid. 

I prefaced this by adding the median house prices around the area. Not because I give a shit, but because I was alluding to the fact that surely, this person is in the top 1 or 2% of the entire global population. Privilege embodied. Yet, all suffering is relative. The pitfalls of mental (or other) ill-health don’t discriminate. Maybe she had a pet die, or a loved one, or she found out she had cancer. Or maybe, she just felt the collective pain we all feel at the moment. When we turn on the news and see faces of small, sweet, innocent children sentenced to perilous lives in conflict ridden areas, or people clinging to the side of planes trying to escape their own country. Maybe she woke up and broke her TV off its hinges and flung it across the room and took to it with a baseball bat, cursing it for the images she wished she hadn’t seen. Maybe she’d feel better if she donated all of her disposable cash to charities. Maybe she already does. Who knows. 

But today, all judgement aside, I understood. 

It’s not all days that you wake up with the willingness to proceed in this so often torturous existence. It’s a wonder we do really. Somehow, most days, we manage not to flee and take physical and emotional shelter from the impending responsibilities or obligations that a new day demands. Most days, we find the smile of a stranger, or a kind gesture from a friend carry us through whatever our inner turmoil digs up for us. Maybe we watch the sunrise, or set and feel accomplished.  Sometimes that is enough. But sometimes it isn’t. Sometimes we fail spectacularly. We feel the visceral anguish of lost love. We fear our looming mortality. We feel. 

But there is also a time for perseverance. For committing oneself to a higher value thinking, then doing, then being. Despite it all, there is more than you to get up for. To be the stranger that offers the smile, or the friend that offers the kind gesture. 

And please, for the sake of you and those who mean most, don’t be that person gulping in breaths of air between your tears of regret at a funeral. Acknowledge that looming mortality as the most urgent of reminders to relish every moment, and to love others so fervently that you couldn’t have hoped to love them any more than you did. 

Have the courage to not leave words unsaid, deeds undone.