My teacher spoke about how she responds to positive reinforcement like a golden retriever. It was a great moment of self-reflection and comic relief. I watched myself this weekend as I was receiving an experience which bubbled up inside of me in a way which began to overflow. It was hard to contain the joy.
“Nothing thicker than a knife’s blade separates melancholy from happiness.” Virginia Woolf
When you grow accustomed to being without something for a long enough time, the experience of having that very thing, can topple a place inside of you which has been waiting in the wings to be dialogued with but perhaps never closed up.
I thought I would fall to pieces upon seeing my teacher because I had missed her so much. But instead, I simply felt deeply happy. I felt my body, which had been so fatigued and so unready to work, dig into its roots and rise from its depths just to stand in its own center. And as that happened, my heart was exposed to news which saddened me deeply: the death of a friend, a recent diagnosis of another, haunting grief. The list was long, but my roots were deep and I did not grow dizzy. I was not distracted by anything. As fatigued as I felt, I was rooted.
I have spent much of my life being very familiar with grief. I watched myself this weekend, however, moving continually toward what felt like love rather than what felt like loss even though I have been comfortable and accustomed to living without.
Coming from a history of deprivation, this really is groundbreaking and radical. But… maybe… just…
this is because the ones who truly love us really do instill in us the experience which we so naturally know is our birthright.
I realized that, I too, am like a golden retriever. But I would describe myself in this way. I am the type of Golden who is a Classic Jewish Grandmother. Those who know me well, know this to be very true about me.
Let me explain:
I am pushy without offending.
I am just so happy to see you that I am busting inside (in other words, “kvelling”).
So much so that I will tell you I have traveled “Just to take a look at you and now that I have, I can go. No need to discuss. No need to ask you questions, but I hope you have eaten and that you will eat again before too long.”
I will look at you in a way that helps me remember because I understand the brevity of life and the joy of the moment.
And lastly, I will of course, give you a zest of a squeeze as every good grandmother does.
After the weekend came to a close, that same night as Viola Davis won the SAG award she said, “Thank you to all of the people who love me exactly how God made me.”
With reverence and love in my heart, all I can say is “Thank you.”