Recently, I've been thinking a lot about juxtapositions. This started because a couple of weeks ago, I put my cat to sleep on a Monday and 2 days later, I was at a Harry Styles concert in New York City. These are 2 very different experiences: one centered around sorrow and loss, the other around excitement and the pure joy of being alive.
When I decided that it was time to say goodbye to MooMoo, I felt like I should sell my tickets, because doing something so fun and life-affirming felt wrong. But then I realized that I can be sad and still experience joy. This doesn't diminish the sadness, it just lets it rest for a while.
Juxtapositions are everywhere, actually. Celebrating birthdays while there's a war raging. The hope for the future that babies bring in uncertain times. The relief of leaving a toxic career or relationship while being sad something is over. Acknowledging one doesn't negate the other. What I am coming to learn and accept is that in times of pain, struggle, sadness and sorrow, joy and excitement is even more necessary.
I read an article a while back that said something along these lines: it's not always hope (hope that our lives will get better, or world peace will become a reality and so on) that keeps us moving forward. It's curiosity about the future. That as long as there is a part of us that wonders how things will turn out, we can keep moving forward. I found that really interesting and it made me oddly...hopeful for myself. Over the past few years, so many of us have experienced turmoil, upheaval, illness and asked ourselves deep questions about what matters most to us, sometimes making drastic changes. I know I have. And I have definitely had times where it felt like I was all out of hope. But I have never run out of curiosity.
And maybe that's why I held onto those Harry Styles concert tickets: Curiosity. I wanted to see if I could access the joy I knew it was capable of bringing me. I'd been to see him a few weeks prior during his New York City residency and felt more alive than I had in years and wanted another dose. I didn't suddenly get over the loss of my cat, but I was reminded that my heart has space for both grief and happiness. And how important it is to seek happiness and joy out when grief is present. Unsurprisingly, the joy was there, waiting, easily accessed. By the crowd, the vibe, the ubiquitous feather boas, the music, the way Harry encourages everyone to be who they are and, so we are. For a few hours, we are loose and carefree. We sing and dance as one. Nothing exists in that time other than happiness and joy.
2 weeks later, my heart is still reeling over the loss of my cat. And my body and mind are yearning to see Harry again. Last week, I decided I was going to adopt Guinea pigs. This week I decided to pump the brakes on that plan. I don't need to push the pain of losing my cat aside by bringing new animals home (yet). I can sit with the strange feeling of only having 1 animal to share my life with, for the first time in 30 years. I can give myself time to decide if that's enough. I also don't have to dull the pain by buying overpriced concert tickets and flying to LA (I want to, though, not gonna lie.) Sitting with uncertainty juxtaposes well with the quick, decisive, emotion-driven actions I am used to taking, which, maybe just maybe, I can learn to dial down a bit if I allow myself some space and some grace.
I don't know. I'm unsure. But I am hopeful. And curious.