Am I the recipient of targeted lessons from a greater source? Is there something—or many things—I am “supposed to learn?”
Let’s take, for instance, the strange fact that soon after taking solace in and publicly acknowledging my gratitude for two separate infusions of color and beauty into my life, they were promptly un-infused. Each was removed and replaced by an especially ugly, jagged, frustrating obstruction.
Covering the classroom window that gave me spring and solace, blinds half-hang in an array of catches and hitches, a bent fan of futility.
And my fingernails, recently a lively aqua, are now dry, shredded handsaws.
I’d been practicing gratitude.
Wedding photos of my mother in the 60’s, with a cluster of daisies, the flower that always looks as though it’s been hand-picked in a fit of adoration, inspired my departure from roses. My father in the frame, touching her lightly, looking lovingly into her eyes, sealed the symbol for me. Daisies would be mine, an inheritance. When Steve drove 800 miles to hand me a single daisy on my porch, I knew that I would not only be married to that man, but also to the simple, sweet daisy.
So on the last day of school, when a magical little girl ended my year with a bouquet of lavender ones, I thanked her over and over. I gushed with gratitude for my extraordinary class, for Steve and my mother, and for my father, who first demonstrated for me how a woman could be loved—and still brings Mom daisies, at her grave.
Flowers in hand, I thanked the little girl and the fairies she claims to cavort with. I thanked Mom, and any other angels who had conspired to bring me daisies. I thanked God, I thanked gods and goddesses, I thanked the florist, I thanked the universe for existing to this day, so that I could have this blessed bouquet and remember. Cut daisies are sprightly for weeks. I could wake to them in my temporary home and remember true home and be grateful. Thank you, thank you, achoo.
I ignored the first sneeze.
We were in the apartment three hours, this handful of happiness and I, before I realized it wasn’t a summer cold coming on. No, I was highly allergic to these hybrid lavender daisies! They would have to be removed immediately: happiness fail #735.
Despair set in. I’d been in a constant state of stress and chaos since the storm, trying always, always to find the positive. But now I detected a pattern. Lately, if I stumbled across something that felt good, I’d grow it and put it on a shelf so it could constantly comfort me. I balanced it, with all its beauty and meaning, as best I could high above the red tape and ugliness. The views, the colors, the bouquets—I so enlarged and elevated them that they no longer fit—and eventually fell.
Was I not meant to find relief? Was someone/something trying to take these small comforts from me? Was I being punished? It felt so directed. Here, take this—no, you can’t have it. Here, take that—no, you don’t deserve it. Had I been resentful, ungrateful, mean? Could it be karma? Was it a past life thing? Was something, somewhere in the universe trying to teach me a lesson?
I asked Steve all these questions, because he is exceedingly rational and I was crazed. He replied that it was best for me to see the incidents as separate and let each go—a happening without any special meaning that happened to make me feel strongly for a brief time. Too bad all our books on Existentialism are drowned or packed away. But I could try that.
Or maybe I could take the idea of each incident, and connect them with this Eastern thread: all is fleeting, and humans suffer because they refuse to acknowledge this. Too bad our books on Buddhism are drowned or packed away. But I could try to understand suffering as a human condition, caused by clinging—and accept the change in my life.
Then again I could turn to my old friend Camus, who reminds me that the reason to move through this absurd world is the very experience of it. Perhaps I’d be willing to push this burdensome boulder up Sandy’s mountain for all time if along the way I could spy a spring scene, glimpse a flash of color on my nails, or meet a girl who wants to save me with daisies.
Nothing can take these experiences from me, and yet still they are gone. By not letting them go, I suffer. By connecting them, I cannot let them go.
Thank you, Buddexistentiabsurdism. Thank you for that. I’m again practicing gratitude and, for the moment, I am happy.
A new moment has arrived, and I am happy.