The onrush of scenery

The approach to the Golden Gate Bridge, as seen from Marin Headlands, July 2003

The approach to the Golden Gate Bridge, as seen from Marin Headlands, July 2003

“I felt my lungs inflate with the onrush of scenery—air, mountains, trees, people. I thought, “This is what it is to be happy.”Sylvia Plath

It’s difficult to read this quote from Plath without thinking of the sad reality that she chose to end her own life while still young, with two small children.  Yet I find hope here in realizing that even a person given to fatal depths of melancholia was not completely beyond the reach of happiness.

One thing that helps me in moments of despair is the realization that “this too shall pass.”  When everything seems to be going wrong, or when we are feeling sad or distressed (even if it’s for no particular reason) it’s easy to think we can never be happy again.  But when our emotions tell us our sorrow is permanent, our minds can argue back.

Yes, we can and will be happy again.  Yes, there will even be moments of elation, such as Plath describes.  We know this because we can look into our memories and find both joy and sorrow there.

I think we all have had times when we felt a similar rush of joy.  What are some of those moments for you? Can you think of a place you’ve stood and marveled at the sights spread out before you?  Or a time when you thought “right now, everything feels almost perfect?” I hope you have many such gems to remember, and I hope that this year will bring you more of them.

One year ago today

Talk of mysteries!

This post was first published seven years ago today. The original post, comments and photo are linked, along with two other related posts, below. These links to related posts, and their thumbnail photos, do not appear in the blog feed; they are only visible when viewing the individual posts by clicking on each one. I have no idea why, nor do I know how they choose the related posts. That’s just the way WordPress does things.

6 Comments

  1. Good morning, Julia!
    Yesterday or church had a four-hour Zoom mini-retreat. We talked about Covid, the losses we’ve felt, and Elizabeth Kubler-Ross’ five stages of grief. It was interesting to see which losses I grieve spending mostly in denial or bargaining (eg. connection with friends) and which have left me more depressed (eg. access to ice skating facilities, or traveling). Other people may feel more anger about curtailed travel, and so on.
    Looking at these feelings from that “outside” perspective helps me, as does considering the impermanence of our feelings.
    How are you feeling, dear friend?

    • Susan, that sounds like a great Zoom gathering and much to think about. I’m doing OK, thanks for asking. A fellow student in my Oxford cohort, who became a widow long before I did (with children still young) told me something recently which really rang true. She said that most people could not understand that grief (at least grief of a dearly loved spouse) is not about recovery. It’s more about rebuilding. I found that so helpful as I build, bit by bit, a whole different world. Not a new life, but a different world– and the winds are stiff at times, so it’s slow going. But on good days I think I can see some progress.

      • Sending you hugs, and praying for you, Julia.

        • Thank you, Susan. The prayers (and virtual hugs) are the backbone of my survival for a long time now, and they are much appreciated! So when I pray for you, I’ll try to remember to say “please” as well as “thank you” 😀 !

  2. Rene

    Several times, when walking out to the parking lot at work (way too late), I’ve seen spectacular sunsets that lifted me up out of my exhaustion. Sadly, by the time I get down the hill & home, the sunset I out of view due to the nearby mountains (or hills). I’ve taken to photographing the sunsets on my phone so that I can enjoy them a little.

    • Good idea, Rene! Isn’t amazing how quickly the night falls once the sun starts sinking? I’ve missed my share of photographs of sunsets in just that way. I’m glad you’re snapping photos with your phone. Of course the photos don’t capture it fully, but they bring back memories of what it was like.

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