Days of Rest; Days of Introspection

I've tried to do my best to rest during the weekend's over the summer, taking trips along the Potomac, going to New York City twice, to the islands off of Charleston, S.C. and Duck, N.C. Feeling a bit tired this weekend, I mused a bit about what the last few Sundays have been like. I went to my camera to see if I had pictures (see above) that would jog my memory, an assessment of my attempt of summer mental health self-help and the results for me. They reach look nice, comfortable, inviting. Well, pictures don't always tell the story.

As one particularly well-expressed friend once described her feelings as she sat her in her bikini, a glass of red wine next to her and her father outside by the pool while weekending at palatial mansion on the eastern coast of Florida, "Here I go again. I'm crying hysterically in paradise." There's been a lot of that going on lately.

Each picture, in its own way, is beautiful, but each hides underlying sadness. Or perhaps each shows the beauty that can be found within sadness. It's hard for me to say, or to even tell the difference - for beauty and sadness are so interlinked for me, not in some sadistic way, but for my very profession is rooted in the notion of bringing beautiful things out of the experiences that cut us most deeply.

The bottom picture, from three Sundays ago, is of the shops in beachfront Duck. I was taking this picture on vacation, while on the phone with a client who hours later would experience and enormous trauma. The next picture of a friend from two Sundays ago. She called because she was sick. She said she wanted to share I cup of coffee. I think she wanted someone safe to watch as she fell apart. Later that day she walked seven miles to an emergency room after her loved ones refused to take her to the hospital. That night, another client called from beach cottage in Delaware, crying in paradise literally, afraid that her family members would see her shed one more tear and that she would have to see the dismissive disappointment on their faces one more time again.

The final picture is from today, and it looks fun enough. I was actually watching my former neighbor's children -- they are 11, 8 and 5, and they a great. We played games, ran around, laughed, joked. Unspoken was that they had been dropped off because their mother was busy making arrangements for the funeral of their uncle, only in his 40s, who had died the day before of pancreatic cancer.

The friend who wrote about "crying hysterically in paradise," wrote in the same note, "I think the two of us are more sensitive than most people. And I don't mean it in the 'overly sensitive, easily offended' way. I mean that we're more sensitive in the way that our skin bruises easier, our eyes burn stronger, our hearts break faster and our mouths smile harder. I think the way you learned to deal with that is to shut a piece of yourself off from it, to harden your skin in order not to feel the pain, and I came along, trying to open it all up." Perhaps my skin still bruises easily. Maybe I fixate on the pain. I like to think that both are true -- and that they are reasons that I am able to live each precious moment of life to its fullest, and see how others hurt, and try to help them heal. Who knows? We all seek rationalizations for what we do and who we are. This one just seems to resonate with me - at least right now, in this particular moment.

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