There is an abundance of sorrow on this small Earth, of that we might all agree, but there is also, at least here in northern Vermont, the ability to find joy quite easily in May. In the buds and flowers and leaves and warming temps and that fabulous blue sky hovering like sapphires above each and everyone. I am not ignoring the staggering horrors dropping like thick fog, but I am asking that mess to push aside for this day to feel a joy so big it overpowers. This week joy seems to be what lots of people reminded me to feel too: an unfiltered, possibly even a radical joy.
When I was a teenager I overheard my Grandmother saying very straight-faced, after being complemented on her 50th Wedding Anniversary, “Well they weren’t all good years.” I was slightly shocked to hear her admit that, especially in the midst of her celebration, but most everyone around who was married for any length of time nodded in agreement. In the ensuing years, I have come to realized that life often brings harsh challenges, sometimes a whole avalanche of them, and these can alter even the best of relationships. My spouse & I have weathered many such hardships, most certainly there have been periods when we weren’t sure we would survive. When COVID sheltered us this worry intensified because all I heard about via every social media outlet was the spiking divorce rate due to the lockdown. I started to obsess it would happen to us, but eventually I had to stop reading the negative news, focus on my present day, let go of the fear and the hype, and believe in what we have built together over the decades.
“It wasn’t burnout — we still had energy. It wasn’t depression — we didn’t feel hopeless. We just felt somewhat joyless and aimless. It turns out there’s a name for that: languishing.
Languishing is a sense of stagnation and emptiness. It feels as if you’re muddling through your days, looking at your life through a foggy windshield. And it might be the dominant emotion of 2021.
As scientists and physicians work to treat and cure the physical symptoms of long-haul Covid, many people are struggling with the emotional long-haul of the pandemic. It hit some of us unprepared as the intense fear and grief of last year faded” (Grant).
Last week, everyone read The New York Times article, everyone nodded a yes, and I too thought, this is exactly what I am feeling after this past year. Before I read the piece, I had coined the sense as ‘mopey’. Just that downcast and defeated feeling after a hard year of cynicism and despair might leave you moping around your living room.