I am in a spectacularly bad mood. I'm not going to write about the central reasons but they have to do with the tragic gap. Remember the tragic gap? Parker Palmer talked about on a Moyers and I wrote about it a few times. It comes back to me again and again.
I was looking for one of the times I wrote about it for an hour or so this morning. It may be on the old blog. I got lost in my archives. I found another post about my moodiness, which I liked very much. That's not always true for me. I usually read old writing and flinch. I'm mostly quoting other people so ...
In the post a set of reading had added together for me and as I was looking for the tragic gap post I had a similar experience, starting with that post of my own and the bits from Coetzee. At some point I went to the Moyers site and searched: the tragic gap, found the specific episode and then I listened to the whole thing again. It aired in 2009 and still feels relevant. From Palmer.
I think the pursuit of happiness is the pursuit of reality because illusion never leaves us ultimately happy. And I think the opportunity now is for us to get real. And I think that's going to make us, in the long run, more happy. The tragic gap, and I call it tragic not because it's sad. It is. But more fundamentally because it's an inevitable part of the human condition.
Reality. It's hard because reality is so often a matter of perception. But there is a real real. A real that hits you in the wholeness of who you are and where you are.
Ten or so years ago I went to the hospital to meet a friend's new son. Both parents left the room for a minute and I was sitting with that brand new boy in my arms. So beautiful. And I started to cry. I was fifty, or so. And I knew I would never have my own child. It was just physically too late.
The tragic gap is the gap between what's really going on around us, the hard conditions in which our lives are currently immersed, and what we know to be possible from our own experience.
Something like that is happening now but it's slippery. It's not as certain that it's too late. It's just very likely. It feels like something I need to decide. I need to decide because I can't stop hurting myself.
I have said and it is true that I have been happier since I moved into the nest. I even dreamed it the other night. I dreamed I was saying something about just wanting to know that I had a home and in the dream I remembered that I do now. The nest. It is grounding. It's an embrace. And I have books. (Thank you Kristina.) And I have really good local food. And I can swim. So then.
Palmer talks about being able to sustain tension. He talks about standing in the tragic gap and sustaining tension between reality and possibility. I may be in one of those moments.
I'm always a bit surprised by how much I like Louie C.K. I really do like him. I mean he says things that make me reel but he also says things that are just exactly right. In another spot on my reading thread today I saw a video of him, which I'd seen before. He's talking about why he doesn't want to give his kids cell phones but in the middle of his rant he talks about the tragic gap. Not in those words but ... yeah. It's there. He's talking about sadness. Feeling sadness.
I'm not sad. Well. I am. But it's not exactly what I am. Melancholy, as Coetzee articulates is closer but it's bigger.
And another bit of the thread came from Paul. Interestingly the bit with Louie and Paul's post are both about the need to put down the phone and walk away from the screens and not be ... busy. That's not exactly what I'm talking about but I am talking about enduring. Enduring it all. Paul says, Without downtime and work on the self I experience profound avoidance.
Profound avoidance. I love that he gets that.
But I think I tend to dwell. And. That's. Well. You know.
It's not about avoidance or dwelling though. It's about standing in the gap where the real real is. The tension between the possible and. What. We. Know. To. Be. Possible. From Our. Own, Experience.
Somethings just aren't going to happen.
Two loads of laundry. One done and folded. One still in the dryer. Half the plants watered. Some dusting. The glass door cleaned. My mood is still prickly. I need to eat dinner. The coming week has some fun. My mood will move.
Rickie Lee sings: there are wounds that stir up the force of gravity.
Indeed there are.