Last night I went to bed with a heavy heart.
I won’t say all the reasons why. Some of them are public knowledge, and you can read about them elsewhere, wherever it is you get your news, perhaps from a publication in print, in newsprint, like the one in our town that keeps shrinking, shrinking so that a few years ago our son stopped calling it “the paper” and started calling it “the pamphlet,” or perhaps from a source online, or perhaps from a book, because books that took years to write and be edited and published also contain news, news to us anyway, of places and people and multiple other species, and tragedies and conflicts and compromises and courage, and sometimes, oftentimes, actually, the slow-steeped news of a book is way more true and relevant than the news that gets delivered simultaneous to its occurring, the news we call “breaking news,” and whatever else that phrase means, “breaking news,” it frequently does involve some actual breaking, of lives or environments or hearts or hopes, which is why news, old news and breaking news, often weighs so heavy.
And some of the reasons, of course, are personal and private, and include persons other than just me, and thus are doubly triply quadruply private, but are reasons you can imagine, and are likely familiar with yourself, and involve various sorts of bruising, bruisings I’ve received and bruisings I’ve given, and the second kind is worse, of course, way worse, and now that I think of it, it’s interesting how the word bruise, in its verbal form, “to bruise,” can mean something you do to another, as in “I bruise you,” or something do to yourself, as in “I bruise easily” – I think the grammar-class way to say this is, “bruise” can be a transitive or an intransitive verb, but maybe someone who reads this and knows about these things would be kind enough to confirm or correct me on that – interesting, yes, and true, that when we get a bruise we also receive one.
But one of the reasons I went to bed with a heavy heart, the reason I’ll share here, is that I’ve been working on something that’s not working, working hard and steadily and persistently and yet dadgummit! it’s still not working, not working to the point that I’m thinking of it as “failing,” and no matter how often I hear the Thomas Edison quote about the thousand times he failed not being a thousand failures but a thousand times he learned what wouldn’t work, and whether what I’m working on actually is or isn’t failing, right now it feels like failing, and the feeling of failing is heavy, as I’m sure you and Sisyphus both know.
So, I was lying in bed last night, talking about this with one of the people I’ve bruised, and she said, “It feels like you’re trying to make this happen too fast, and I wonder what would happen if you didn’t feel the pressure of time, which looks to me like it’s self-imposed pressure anyway, and you could let this thing happen at an easier pace,” which is the sort of wise and kind thing she says rather often, God bless her, but I’m sure you know that sometimes someone can say something wise and kind to you, and you’re not ready yet for wisdom and kindness, you’re still brooding and stewing and sighing and needing to be stuck a while longer, and the wisdom offered, even kindly, is so radically different from your current and probably long-standing approach to things that it just doesn’t land, it won’t compute, there’s not even a file in your brain to put it in, which was the case for me with this comment about the pressure of time, because let me tell you I am always, always, always aware of time, in my professional life as a therapist, where I’m forever looking at a calendar or a clock and where what I say or do in any moment depends to some degree on what time it is, whether there are 20 minutes left or 10 minutes left, and in my personal life, where I have worn a Timex Ironman wristwatch continuously, for 30 years at least, while I work, play, eat, shower, sleep, you name it, taking it off only when the battery dies or the wristband breaks and I have to go buy a new one, so you can say, and be both literally and metaphorically correct, that I wear time like a handcuff, and you can also understand, I think, why those words last night, about not feeling the pressure of time, sort of bounced off me.
Only maybe they didn’t, or not entirely. Because unbeknownst to me, something happened in the night. And this morning, when I awoke, my wristwatch was gone.