Somedays you just wake up and feel like shit, and today is one of them. I’m waking up to a gloomy, rainy day in Chicago with a temperature of 43 degrees and a “feels like” temperature of 37 degrees. I assume I won’t go running today. I assume I won’t do much today at all. How much can one endure cooking, cleaning, and trying to stay positive? Today is my 21st day of isolation during the coronavirus pandemic, and it feels like the world is going to end. The dark skies that I’m looking at right now as I write this agrees with me.
To inspire me to feel better I often reach for books so I walk over to my bookshelf thinking I would grab Victor Frankl’s MAN’S SEARCH FOR MEANING but I can’t find it. I look again and again. And again. I remain calm and patient thinking there must be a reason, and that, perhaps, that book was not meant for me to re read at this time. Besides, why would I want to experience the devastating darkness of Frankl’s Holocaust experience right now anyway? So I scan my bookshelf for a different inspiration. There’s always my two favorites, THE ODYSSEY and THE DIVINE COMEDY. Then there’s the big one that I never finished, Tolstoy’s ANNA KARENINA. I will try again someday but not today. Then I see a book’s bind that is so faded that I can’t read the title. I reach for it. My heart melts. It’s a book given to me by my favorite boyfriend, and as my mind goes back in time with the flood of beautiful memories…I start crying. Again. WTF. Didn’t I just cry the other night in bed? What the hell? Oh, yes, the damn coronavirus isolation, and today is the 21st day. I decided from now on for the rest of my life I might blame the coronavirus for all bad feelings.
I bring over the book and open it to the page where Tim, the boyfriend, wrote a dedication to me. My favorite part of what he wrote was:
Here’s to the journey of life and the beauty, mystery, and the wonder it beholds.
Like a little girl I swoon and sigh as more memories of our relationship springs forth. Then I smile inside as I sit down with the book to see what it will reveal to me.
The book is titled A JOSEPH CAMPBELL COMPANION…REFLECTIONS ON THE ART OF LIVING. I found it amazing that every word seemed to resonate and reflect our current world events. Here is what he wrote exactly, in order that is printed. Notice the capitalization that is his, not mine:
We must be willing to get rid of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.
The old skin has to be shed before the new one can come.
If we fix the old, we get stuck. When we hang onto any form, we are in danger of putrefaction.
Hell is life drying up.
The Hoarder, the one in us that wants to keep, to hold on, must be killed.
If we are hanging onto the form now, we’re not going to have the form next.
You can’t make an omelet without breaking eggs.
Destruction before creation.
Out of perfection nothing can be made.
Every process involves breaking something up.
The earth must be broken to bring forth life.
If the seed does not die, there is no plant.
Bread results from the death of wheat.
Life lives on lives.
Our own life lives on the acts of other people.
If you are lifeworthy, you can take it.
What we are really living for is the experience of life, both the pain and the pleasure.
The world is a match for us. We are a match for the world.
Opportunities to find deeper powers within ourselves come when life seems most challenging.
I have to stop there because there are too many to share, and every word rang true to me, especially the ones that seem to provide a spiritual meaning. As we’re all going through many forced changes, challenges, and thoughts in our lives, I would like to leave my favorite passage from the above mentioned book. It spoke to me the most as I have been working on a new career path, and it seemed to be a sign of hope for my future:
If you want the whole thing, the gods will give it to you. But you must be ready for it.
Thank you Joseph Campbell! To think that a book given to me so long ago would reveal itself to me just when I truly needed it is much more than a blessing. It’s a true gift. To Tim, wherever you are today, THANK YOU. 🙏