The project that began a couple of weeks ago with listening to some playlists and deciding to create my own keeps moving along for me as I follow threads and see where they take me — both musically and internally. I like the playlist I created but it really reflects some threads I was following about a particular type of music I remembered from the 70’s, not musical favorites.
The list, which did contain a few “loves”– reminded me of my love of music which led me to realize I don’t listen to music as much as I did and, when I do, I never listen to those old favorites. The change in type — to mostly the kind of stuff I would play for a yoga class — will be the subject of another post.
The noticing led me to switch from my original intent of listening to other people’s playlists — thus being introduced to new music — to choosing some of my own playlists of older music. Some of these lists I created and never listened to them. Or listened once when I first made it and then never again. Listening every day has kept a lot of memories swirling from those years from 1970 to 1977 or so.
Last night I put on a list titled just “Oldies” to listen for a while as I read in bed. This list was full of favorite artists and music I loved but I don’t think I ever listened after compiling it. The list took me back to images again of friends at Northwestern, Amazingrace coffeehouse, antiwar protests, etc. A time I’ve always treasured. The first time I felt a sense of belonging. Giddy, heady times when we shared a conviction that we could change the world. Excitement, emotion, drama; I ate it all up.
Suddenly I began weeping. And I couldn’t stop. At first I thought it was just one of those nostalgic cries — you know, when you just feel sad about what used to be that is no more… But I couldn’t stop. And finally I realized that I hadn’t want to leave or for those days to be over. But I come from a family of stalwarts and stoics, so, in our way, I sucked it up and moved on. But I didn’t grieve.
Finally the grieving. And as I grieved for that long ago time I thought about the girl I was and her dreams. And I realized that on this journey I’ve become somebody far removed from her. If she’d been told about the life she’d wind up leading and how it would go compared to her dreams, I think she’d have contemplated suicide. And I grieved for that me who is no more. And then grieved for those who’ve died for whom I didn’t grieve. I cried and cried. And then I felt as if a big weight had been lifted from my chest and shoulders.
I know I’m about to step into a new phase. Don’t know what it will be, not sure exactly who I am other than who I’m not any more, given the many aspects I’ve released. And I grieved for the person who used to know. But felt hope and a willingness to let the unfolding occur without knowing. And when I finished I felt God’s presence and hand for the first time in all of it. In spite of all the faith with which I’ve kept going, on some levels I’ve never really believed or felt that presence before.
I’m not sure that the grieving is complete. But I grieved as much as I could last night. Sometimes another layer needs a little time before rising to the surface. But for now, I feel so much better.
And I thought about grieving and how we’ve become a country that by and large avoids it. That suck-it-up-and-carry-on attitude is, I think, an American norm (other countries chime in about being the same or different). And in recent years it’s developed a new twist: don’t just suck it up or numb it yourself, medicate it away.
Some years ago I worked in a doctor’s office for a while. Though answering phones wasn’t part of the job, I wound up trained in some basics for answering the phones during busy times. One day I answered to a new widower who felt really sad because his wife just died and he wanted a prescription for something to make it stop.
A while later in the kitchen, I encountered the Indian doctor from the group and mentioned how odd I felt about that call. She shook her head in disgust and commented how everyone wants to take a pill these days to keep from feeling anything. “In India,” she asserted, “we think when someone you love dies you’re SUPPOSED to feel sad.” Well said.
All of this has me wondering how many people are carrying around the great weight of grieving not done?
Note: I couldn’t decide whether this fits as a J2PMonday post or not. But I finally decided that the weight of tears not shed is just as profound an interference with inner peace as any other …