I have been through a serious illness as an adult. There was definitely a before and after in terms of my relationship with my body. During those first months home from the hospital I went to sleep every night fearing I wouldn’t wake. It was a slow healing process mentally, even though I ran a half marathon just six months later. A year later, another trip in an ambulance and doctors shrugging and saying we’ll keep an eye on it. Who knows.

I hear that I pushed too hard. Sometimes I believe it myself. But I am pretty sure that this is just the way of things. We don’t restore ourselves to shiny and new. We do maintenance.

Now after more than two years of whatever this was: this feels like a new before and after. A wilder storm. Almost as though previous experiences were just trial runs for this change. Sometimes it makes me fear what is coming. The future sneaks up on us from behind. Jump scares.

I think it’s interesting that our culture has used language to flip the truth. To flip our mindset from what should be obvious into a comforting illusion of control: the future is in front of us. I am wondering if this isn’t one of the most profound ways in which we deceive ourselves. As though we can prepare for the future in any meaningful way.

We can gather our nuts. But we are only guessing. Predicting. Projecting. Based on stories. And there are so many stories.

Maybe it is healthy to admit that what we see in front of us is the past, and the stories we manufacture from it. It’s an imaginary map. With monsters at the ends of the earth.

At 56 my body has undergone a sea change. Even the surface of my skin is a kind of “new”. I catch myself thinking I need to “get back” into shape. And I catch myself berating myself and maybe mourning the never-reached destinations on the imaginary map I’d been carrying around.

Sometimes now I think if I close my eyes I can relax and let the future come up behind me and wrap its arms around me and lift me along the path. While I will trip now and then, but also pluck what I like along the way. Like a bouquet of experiences. Of loves.

And maybe even allow myself a moment or two of schmaltz.

Every day these past two weeks has felt like a Friday: a vague lightness in the shadow of overwhelming demands, events, expectations. And I can’t help but wonder if as these days pass and the shadow distances into the past, I won’t notice, or think to take the time to sense the lightness. I don’t want to take this for granted. I don’t want to lose it.

I have been thinking more about words and emotions. I have a paperback on my shelf that is 300 or so pages of named emotions. But then I also think of the platypus and how just because we name something (a bird, a mammal, a sorrow) doesn’t make it true.

Words are no more accurate than paintings or music in communicating the human experience in terms of “feelings”. Sometimes I wonder if music isn’t really the most direct way to connect with one another? Don’t get me wrong. I am not a music person. I rarely listen to music, but when I do it can overwhelm me. Especially if the lyrics and the melody work together in a way that makes the diaphragm move unexpectedly and send signals to the brain that trigger loss or longing (if those are actually discrete emotions). Or joy, actually.

The minor chord in REM’s “Shiny Happy People” – the dissonance with the lyrics – is so recognizable to me that sometimes it seems like the only authentic song about happiness. About wanting to be happy.

That song makes me feel human. But even if I found a good word to describe the particular shade of human experience, there’s no guarantee it would help. Maybe the shade is so much deeper when it’s unclassified?

I have a memory of sorts that I sometimes have just before sleep. It has a texture. Textures, actually. Something hard and something sponge-like. It is palpable and neither good nor bad. Though uneasy perhaps. It feels as deep as a well, and as just-out-of-reach (for all its palpableness) as a whole, an “everything”.

And of course, I have tried to pin it down to an early childhood experience. Could it be…? But I know anything I land on to make sense of it will be a guess. And it would take the magic away. Because when this memory comes just before sleep, I relish its uneasiness. I feel connected to something elemental – even if it is only to my own childhood self.

Norwegians have a word for the ancient, or primal: ur. I figure there is a good English word for that as well, but I doubt it sounds as guttural.