As of late: Grace, courage

To think, act, speak graciously, to maintain courage in the face of grief. My practice tells me that all things in life are about balance. About sustainability.

Grief is a curious creature. Most of the time, everything is humdrum. I go to work, I walk the dogs, I pet the cats, I cook, I eat, I clean. But that well is deep and sometimes, I fall in and find myself in over my head in an instant. I don’t always see it coming; it takes my breath away with its intensity. Yet, there is light. If I’m patient with my grief, it shows me a way forward.

But enough about that. Humans have been writing about grief for millenia to attempt to wrap it up in a pretty box and to make others understand their pain, which seems like a redundant exercise because along with death and taxes, I don’t think anybody who lives to be an age where they are able to write and read about it gets to escape it.

I’m currently making my way through The History of the Ancient World: From the Earliest Accounts to the Fall of Rome by Susan Wise Bauer. I’ve always been embarrassed about my lack of history knowledge (despite my interest, my brain refuses to retain foreign languages and historical events), so this has been an accessible way to study early human history in a linear fashion, which is how my brain comprehends most easily. I don’t think she means to be funny, but I find her dry commentary humorous and still quite relevant in the present day. Despite our best attempts, human nature really hasn’t changed — I’m not sure if I find that comforting or horrifically tragic, but it’s amusing all the same.

The book is rife with historical sexual entendres, like Inanna “promptly [suggesting that Dumuzi] ‘plow her damp field.'” Bauer follows this with a terse and matter-of-fact “He accepts the invitation.” She also writes about “weird pyramid theories” (to which, as an academic, I would say, why even substantiate these theories by mentioning them in your book?, but I won’t complain because I love weird theories) like that of Erich von Däniken, who “insisted that the pyramids could not have been built by the Egyptians because they didn’t possess the necessary technological ability; and further, that the pyramids suddenly appeared without any precedent, which meant that they had most likely been built by aliens.” Right. [insert History Channel alien-meme guy here]

About Sargon, Bauer writes that his name “simply means ‘legitimate king’ and (like most protestations of legitimacy) shows that he was born to no lawful claim whatsoever.” I find myself quoting Shakespeare a lot, lately — “The lady doth protest too much, methinks.” From 2300BC to 1600AD to the present day, the warning still stands: Beware the agenda pushers.

History books reinforce what I’ve learned and have been practicing for the last two years: To listen to what people say, but most importantly, to watch what people do. Whether conscious or subconscious action, what people do tell me the most about their motivations. I’m most wary these days of interacting with people who seem to act only on instinct and on emotions with no reflection on their behavior or thoughts. Unconscious behavior is a bit like a landmine. The shrapnel sprays without specificity. Don’t get caught near one.

It’s hot and dry again today, but I’m going to see if my belly feels ready for taking some rock-climbing falls. Time keeps moving, so I suppose I will, too.