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There is no Light without the Shadow
On Tuesday night, I had a meaningful conversation with Ed, my dear friend of 30+ years. We both independently watched a quiet, heart-wrenching, and beautiful film called "Past Lives" by Celine Song, which my youngest sister Malyn recommended while I was in New York last month. The movie had a lingering effect on our souls and led us to discuss Dr. Pauline Boss's work on ambiguous loss and the myth of closure. Despite the seriousness of our topic, we managed to share hearty laughs that brought warmth to our conversation. With Ed, there's no need for explanations; we simply understand each other. Even if we haven’t seen or heard from each other for years, we pick up where we left off as if no time has passed.
During the call, we also discovered our shared admiration for John O'Donohue, specifically his work on beauty. The following day, he sent me the link to John's conversation with Krista Tippett on the On Being podcast. The way he articulates his thoughts and expresses his words soothes my mind and heart. It was my third time listening to it, and each time, I noticed something new that had escaped me before.
Our meaningful conversation lifted my spirits and it made my week.
The day prior, my friend Mum from Brooks, sent a text about Jen, a colleague of ours, who passed away. I was shocked as she was much younger than me. Jen and I were both Library TAs in school. She kept to herself. We exchanged general pleasantries and passed on library tasks in preparation for the next shift. I remember having several conversations with her discussing school assignments and portfolio presentations. I could picture her infectious laugh– she was all cheeks and teeth, her eyes squinted when she giggled. I scrolled through my phone to find our last text exchange. It was 2019. I was convincing her to visit Gail who lived roughly 1-2 hours away. Gail was head of the library at Brooks and also our confidant– the one thing we had in common. Unfortunately, she couldn’t leave her mom who, at that time, was gravely ill.
More news came yesterday which involved a hospitalization. I can’t go into details but it made me reflect on life’s duality and its fragility. I’ve reached the age where conversations with friends and colleagues revolve around illnesses, plans for retirement, or someone who passed away.
“The beauty of a flower is that it fades,” Steve Leder said in a conversation he had with Kate Bowler on her Everything Happens podcast. (It’s not for the faint of heart).
“Why doesn’t anybody care about plastic flowers? You know why? Because they have no death. They have no life. They have no meaning. The beauty of a flower is that it fades.”
He continued, “And you don’t realize, I certainly don’t, that it’s actually this flower is unfolding in time-lapse photography in front of you. It’s going much faster than you realize. And that’s sort of both the beautiful part and the part that, if you’re conscious of it, can keep you more firmly connected to the experience. That it is ephemeral, that it is temporary, that it is always evolving. And that’s the beauty of it.”
I'll leave you here, for now, dear ones. I encourage you to embrace both the light and the shadow in our lives, for living with this duality is essential—there can be no light without the shadow.
As always, if you want to share your thoughts, feel free to leave them in the comments section below. Thank you for spending a fraction of your time with me on this post.
See you all next Sunday.
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