Back in the day, when I was questioning everything, I turned to music.
I started with good ole’ fashioned 90’s rage metal and alternative “confused and angry but also artist-poet” music that blended poetry of pain into chaotic chords…
But I finally settled on Pink Floyd.
I remember listening to it for the first time at 18 years old while sitting in a dark (very calm 🙂 living room with two respectable gentlemen, who in odd form for my life from when I was 15, never made a move for me, were trustworthy, and were like the older protective brothers I never had.
I didn’t like the music, but I liked the calming company and relaxation. My one regret during that time was that they had bought me a ticket to a concert and I had said “nah.” (insert scream here!)
But after I moved to England, my questioning mind became louder, and I revisited Dark Side of the Moon. Listening on some huge headphones to the tape in my father’s stereo, Great Gig in the Sky came on, and I broke down. I listened to the tape again, and I was carried away and totally hooked. Suddenly, every word made sense, and the music was like nothing I had experienced, making every other album seem surface and lesser-quality in the world of music.
I was pleased to find many people, especially my friends at the time, who adored Pink Floyd, as I was living in England. I ended up with every single album (as everything was switching over to CDs) and they defined my life then: the pleasure, the suffering, the shock, the confusion, the despair, the comfort… eventually they became my comfort. Dark Side and The Wall always battled in my head for which one was my favorite…
I was surprised to find out that most people I knew found Great Gig in the Sky to be the most annoying of that album, but I relentlessly loved it, more and more…
Years went by, many years… the CDs stayed in a dusty CD carrier along with things like Peter Gabriel and REM and Alice in Chains… forgotten as I had baby after baby.
Now, I don’t even have a CD player (unless you count my laptop)…. but iTunes and YouTube have more music than I can even take in. And somewhere between late nights after the children are sleeping, and older teens introducing me to new and wonderful bands, I found Pink Floyd again.
And oddly, I find myself having the same feelings I did as an 18 year old: confused, questioning why I am suffering, longing for a life of excitement, struggling between my love for God and my desire for all that the world has to offer.
Mid-life crisis, anyone?
I’d like to think: no…. but rather, that I am struggling to find myself again as me, not as only “wife, mother, person who lost herself in everyone else’s needs…. woman who forgot or was distracted from who exactly I am…” And of course, Pink Floyd does not define me. But there is something there that speaks of my reality without the fancy chant that is meant for God, when I’m in the mood to be heard, when my anguish and “why have You abandoned me” rises to the surface.
There is nothing more exquisite to me than the music of Divine Liturgy. Nothing. But sometimes, I am on the dark side of the moon. And for five years, to be exact, it’s been dark. And quite honestly, it has never let up. There was a “before and after” in our lives and we are in the after, handling it differently.
Now, before anyone thinks this is clinical depression, or a downer of a post, please know that I am familiar with both, and this is not it. This is me coming from behind closed doors and saying that my smile is not fake, but it has, and is, being forged in a life that feels like utter contradiction. My life is… well, there are no real words except what is expressed in The Great Gig in the Sky. It’s beautiful notes of joy and pain and pleasure and anguish and relief and revelation and suffering and peace, all wrapped up, like one massive labor pain.
As my life seems to be moving from “always looking forward to the next baby” to a new and sometimes devastating silence, or refreshing peace, sometimes at the same time, I look toward the future with hope, but with more weathered eyes, more resolve, more questions as I ponder, “just what is this cup I am being asked to drink?”
I know I am blessed with children who are more than anyone or anything I could have ever desired, relationships that are heavenly, love that has no bounds that I can’t wait to share every day even if there are those down days… but there are other places in my life that are so void that only those with the same cross could even recognize it. And there are many of you.
If you are like me and suffer quiet pain, the kind that is so sacred that we don’t want to be vulnerable to judgments and unsolicited advice, if you are like me and love so deeply that you would rather take on pain than cause it to anyone else, if you are like me and truly do want to live a life given for others but sometimes seriously need a good day or a good time to be reminded that we are real and worthy of love and need a break (no matter our age or state in life), if you need to know that we are not alone, well then here I am… to tell you that you are not alone.
I smile because there is something defiant about a smile in the face of pain, like St. Stephen smiling as they stoned him. This kind of smile says that no matter what, no one can really steal your joy. I’ve seen friends go through unimaginable pain and they are still smiling, too… and it’s not a cheesy grin. It’s joy amidst deep suffering.
When that pain won’t let up, it means something. Sure, maybe we are on the dark side of the moon for now… but this will not last forever. I have to tell myself that, even though days and years can seem like an eternity… but it’s not an eternity. When the pain won’t let up, smile at it, even through tears… and know that this is a sign that you are chosen for something special. Aim for a joyful life, yes, but if the pain still finds you, please know that it doesn’t win in the end.
And please remind me of this, too… I’m here to remind us all not to lock ourselves in isolating closets where we are too frightened of the possibility that we are in fact alone. We are not alone. You are not alone. I am not alone.
And one day our joy will be complete.
Love to you,