On a really warm day in the spring, in a meadow or the woods, there are sometimes so many bees about you can hear them. This is a sound I love. At other times during the daylight seasons, in the right places, all the life around you is so active it becomes cacophony. Birds and bugs and toads and squirrels and chipmunks. Sometimes, as cheesy as this is, I even imagine that I just might be able to hear the plants growing. I am feeling that hum now, distinctly out of season. It is the cumulative effect of a lot of emotional events.
When it comes to emotions I’m an ultramarathoner. No matter what’s going on, I just keep running. Rarely much slower or much faster. It gets harder every year to make me break my stride, and when something really tough comes along, well I can run and cry (metaphorically at least) and I might need to do so for miles and miles before I clear all the tough stuff. I’ve had enough life experience (gratefully!) that many moments or issues have become the predictable scenery on the trail. I can run right past many hurts and sorrows and joys and irritations, and just nod or flinch or smile at each, acknowledging how it enriches the landscape. I’m proud of this. I earned it. It may not be the most obvious aspect of my personality, but it is essential to how I function.
But sometimes the (extended metaphorical) run turns into a steeple chase. I’ve always thought steeple chase looked cool, but it is not my event. The obstacles and challenges popping up to take me by surprise can throw me off my rhythm. I’ve barely worked out how to clear one obstruction when there is another one. I run on, but it causes this hum. Less than edgy, more than alert. It’s like I am feeling emotions not just with whatever the invisible squishy emotions organ is, but with my very skin. On the intangible discomforts scale it’s 1-2 notches below “Sets my teeth on edge.” This is not my favorite feeling. My relentless inner cloud silver-liner, likes to say that it’s an indication of how rich my emotional life is, and how deeply I care about many things. But even knowing that I will look back and appreciate the hours or days of feeling so loudly, most of me just wants to get off this ride.
The ‘problem’ is multiple powerful experiences very close together. Last Friday I drove a couple hours to spend 16 more with friends who, in emotional time, are prehistoric. The salient Redwood steadfastness of our friendship, so lightly and easily knit long ago, is beautiful enough to stare at in awe for a little while. Never in my life did I think I would be an object in a relationship so specifically important! But while drowning in the beauty of those bonds and simple kindnesses, I wanted to be so present in the light of such fun, interesting company. That’s an emotional clean-and-jerk of much more than I usually lift.
I fell out of that experience into a long winter’s nap, and when I woke up two new friends I never see enough met me for an intimate late night snack at a restaurant I love that mostly loves me back. Sunday night I went to a party and left full of renewed enthusiasm for a group to which I had initially only hesitantly hitched my wagon.
On Monday morning I found out he died. From cancer at 35. Leaving a young family. It almost doesn’t matter who. It definitely does not matter that I didn’t know him well. He was so valuable. Anyone who so freely gives that much joy is priceless.
And I am so full of so many emotions that I feel my flesh is dissolved and I am disembodied and floating, buoyant with all this feeling. And then I get accolades at work. And then on Tuesday I ask a friend a simple, almost tongue-in-check, question and in answer I get a world view that makes me gasp at its hurtful narrowness. And still I’m floating. And trying to exhaust. Some of this feeling helium. So I can: get back on the trail, to drown out the hum, by churning my feet.