This afternoon on the massage table I had so many good ideas. Writing prompts, poems, books. But I can’t recall any of them. Maybe I was sleeping. There’ve been times when I’ve lain in bed half-asleep and thought out an entire novel. Even rolled over to make a few notes in the book on the nightstand. But then in the morning realized those two scribbled phrases were all there was to the whole novel: a theme. That had been enough to trigger the feeling of creative accomplishment – a good dream.
It’s nice to appreciate good dreams when we have them. But not to grasp at it, or mourn what never was, or regret the feelings because they were “really undeserved”.
There is a kind of general understanding that if we learn we were happy where the circumstances – if we had known them – would not have warranted it, it wasn’t real happiness. I think it is fascinating that we do this.
Someone happy in a marriage discounts their happiness if they find out a partner had cheated. As though new information not only changes their present emotional state but somehow retroactively changes past experiences. I get that our memories of the experience would be different – that our perspective has changed when we recall/relive/remember. But It seems to me that it’s meaningless – in the strictest sense of the word – to say “I thought I was happy.” We don’t think our emotions except with this kind of retrospect and reconstruction, which is completely ripped from both the present and the past. “I was happy. I just hate being ignorant because it means that I’m out of control.”
If a mother is told her child is dead, but the child walks in the room two hours later, the damage of the two hours of grief is not erased from that woman’s heart, from the cells of her body.
Happy counts, too.
Can we not accept this “done is done” because we have a need to control the narrative of our lives? We want to see ourselves as the playwrights and novelists of our story. In control – even retroactively. Perhaps especially retroactively. I’ve known a fair number of people with mental disorders and trauma that cause them to live in a state of constant concern: is what I am seeing real? I am one of them. A fear of “losing it” and not knowing what is true.
Am I allowed to be this happy?
I’ve had days where I’ve asked myself that. I feel a rise of warm “good dream” feelings when I’m wide awake, and can’t for the life of me rustle up reasons for it. I worry that I’m losing it.
Today I think that there on the massage table today the “undeserved” feeling of contentment was due to the decreasing adrenaline and increasing endorphines. The reduction of inflammation. The quiet.
Since I haven’t been able to run for a while, I haven’t had a massage. I have always seen massages as a reward and maintenence perk for running. Maybe I have it backwards.
I think often picking things apart to try and figure out what is causing us to feel this way or that way is just a mental exercise. A bit of storytelling.
I think I am going to try to stay in the moment. Feel what I feel. And let go without weaving it into a story.
Like that’s going to work.