Flowers for my witty friend

vendredi, le 28 août 2009

Today was a contemplating day.

I received another mail from my Witty Friend’s husband. In an earlier mail he paid tribute to his wife, and described her wit as ‘the ability to have an original response to events or to see humour instead of tragedy everywhere’. I couldn’t think of a more fitting tribute to her myself.

My Witty Friend’s husband is dying of cancer. About two months ago he embarked on a remarkable journey where he started documenting his life narrative and the key insights and lessons he gathered along the way.

In his mails he generally gives factual updates on his disease and treatment. And then discusses at length insights and learnings he gained on his path of developing a philosophy of life. He unreservedly discusses the highs and the lows and the everydayness thereof. He has thrown himself wholly and completely into the process of living and dying.

He takes a critical look at life. At its opposites, its contradictions, its night and day, its male and female, its yin and yang. And he warns against the box-like thinking these dichotomies may bring about, in favour of transcending the opposites and experiencing life in a more nuanced way, in all its complexity, in all its beauty and ugliness.

Long after I read his mail, his summary of insights gleaned from Thomas Moore’s Dark Nights of the Soul, stay with me: ‘Without a philosophy of life, you may be swamped by your emotions and believe life is meaningless. Today, people live by superficial values and naїve ideas. Instead of pursuing deep and solid pleasures, they lose themselves in light entertainment and general unconsciousness. In small portions it is worth pursuing for relaxation, but as a way of life it can lead to extreme passivity. It may seem painful to think and reflect, but bringing your own intelligence to bear on everyday experiences can add an essential dimension that gives it own kind of pleasure.

I draw enormous inspiration from what I perceive to be his almost unbearably difficult journey. I stand in awe of his strength, his perseverance and his determined will to find brightness in what the dark nights bring and to live in the face of dying.

And whilst the dark nights my soul has been experiencing since L’homme flicked the light switch with an assassin’s cold-hearted efficiency, is in no way comparable, I am determined to embark on a journey where I too can, ultimately, experience life in a more nuanced way.

Some time ago L’homme told me he couldn’t come back to me or stick out the dark nights of our relationship, because he needed to find himself and his own feet. I wonder whether his soul is experiencing dark nights and what insights he finds there, and whether they bring brightness.

But today I bring flowers to my Witty Friend, who with her wit, her optimism, her unfailing positive attitude, must be experiencing some dark nights of her own soul. And I want her to see some beauty when she opens her eyes.

(I was pleasantly surprised to thoroughly enjoy a visit to Amsterdam some years ago. I thought I’d be on my way to Paris after a day or two. I marvelled at the many, many flower stands and have heaps of photo’s to prove it!)

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