In the past five days I have felt deep joy and deep sorrow. Equally intense feelings, opposite poles. It got me thinking about the very nature of intense feelings and how, regardless of which pole they originate from, they invigorate us. Feeling anything with your whole self is being alive, painfully, exquisitely alive.
My family had a birthday party for me last weekend. The big five-oh. We finally celebrated officially, with bells and whistles. Dear friends gathered, from work, soccer, neighborhood, book club, even childhood. My kids showed a retrospective slide show they had put together. I felt lucky and loved, intensely happy, warmly alive.
Yesterday, I hugged my friends Patch and his wife Cookie, knowing it could be the last time I see Patch alive, or conscious, or talking. He'll have brain surgery on Monday to remove a recurrent tumor. Last time he came through it with flying colors. We all know it could be very different this time. Or it could be the same. I felt fear and sorrow, hope and pain. Again, intensely alive.
It seems odd to be grateful for heart-wrenching fear, yet I am. Right along with happiness and hope. I want to live this life, all of it, to feel all of it, to have every experience with my very bones. And that means being open to all of it. If you're open to deep joy, you'll get it, and the sorrow that may follow. And that is rich living. Give me no other kind.